Making movies until ‘end of the world’: Guerrilla group Manchester Filmonik on how to create films in a weekend

By Jess Owen

Like all social movements, something must give before anything changes.

The Human Rights Movement, simply put, arose because people were tired of the status quo. 

At the turn of the millennium, a bunch of French Canadian filmmakers sat around in Montreal panicking about the ominous end of an epoch, an apocalyptic view that some harboured at this time. This group realised that if doomsday did plough through the Rockies in the form of a locust-infested meteor, the leading legacy of their lives would be to procrastinate. 

In 1999, this group lead by Christian Laurence founded Kino00, a mission to help new, talented filmmakers emerge.

They hit on a simple bet: to produce an original short film every month until the End of The World.

Under the credo, ‘Do well with nothing, do better with little, and do it now!’ this no nonsense Carpe Diem approach to film making soon made its way to Manchester in the form of Filmonik Kino Manchester.

Steve Balshaw, current organiser of Filmonik Manchester, took time out of his busy schedule to chat to MM about the evolution of this pledge to be more proactive and its presence in Manchester. 

He said: “Even in an age of MacBook Pros and DSLR cameras, where the means of production are more widely available than ever before, film remains at heart a collaborative, crew-dependent artform.

“Where there is a filmmaking community, where the filmmakers know each other, and are friends and amicable rivals, they will push each other, encourage each other, collaborate and create ever-better films. And more even than that, they will have fun doing so.”

The group hosts a number of events, known as ‘Kaberets’, varying from week long, day through-till-night lab sessions to the ‘Guerilla Kaberet’ event where members must ‘shoot off the hoof’ with whatever resources they can get their hands on.

At the centre of Manchester Filmonik is this core belief ‘let’s get it done now, with whatever we’ve got,’ – a dedication to resourcefulness and raw talent over polish and high production values.

Highly crucial is that Filmonik is open to everyone; most notably those with a passion for film but not the cash to back it up.

Steve said: “This is a room full of people who are there to cheer you on, not pick holes in your work. And when it’s in full-swing the Kabaret is like the best, most creative party you’ve ever been to, the wildest holiday you’ve ever been on. And at the end of it, you will have more than just a hangover.

“You’ll have made films to be proud of, and friends and creative collaborators you will have bonded with for life.”

The ‘Guerilla Kaberet,’ is an allusion to the guerrilla style organisation of the group, a testament to creativity. Small groups of actors, animators, directors, amateurs, musicians, artists, screenwriters and professionals make up the mellay of creative voices.

Social worker Cath, the organisational and administrative lynch pin of Manchester’s Filmonik, isn’t even from a filmmaking background.

Yet this group of combatants do produce the goods. Mat Johns, a frequent participant in the Kaberet sessions has directed and produced such high quality and compelling short films that he has been asked to showcase his 24 minute horror film ‘Radio Silence,’ at Grimmfest 2013. Another of Mat’s popular short films which is well worth a watch is ‘Run’ – but be warned, it’s powerful stuff.

Filmonik Manchester is growing every year and many arrive from overseas from other ‘cells’ as is the technical terminology.

Balshaw jokingly described the international movement as ‘film terrorism’, with much infiltration into Manchester’s Filmonik group from others in Belgium, France, Dublin and Germany.

The Manchester Filmonik group are at the centre of an admirable global effort by filmmakers of all varieties to ‘do it now,’ whoever you are.

The Manchester Filmonik will be hosting a four day Guerilla Kino Kabaret on Thursday October 17 2013 and a screening on Sunday October 20 2013 at 7.30pm.

Check out Mat Johns short films here:

Picture courtesy of, with thanks.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles