Chelmsford Film Society

What untold horrors lie through the Essex stargate?

Arts+Culture Feature
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Taken from the November issue of Dazed & Confused:

Chelmsford Film Society, the creators of such DIY dystopian dramas as Biscuit Armageddon, Doomsday Derek, Changheads and Ketamine, It’s Alright, have spent the last three years piecing together their first full-length feature, Essex Girl. Shot partly on 20-year-old 35mm film stock bought from Nasa for 5p a can, it tells the story of a mother searching for the fabled Essex stargate, a portal to another dimension. It’s a deadly quest that she, her family and the audience may never mentally recover from.

“What if all this stuff about portals to other worlds, ancient keys, maps, citadel priests in the form of robot animals and aliens walking among us is actually real?” ask the troupe, who answer as one voice in interviews but are known separately as Phil, Gill, Jonny and David. “That’s an unsettling truth most people openly try to avoid.”

Twisting people’s melons since 2004’s Property Ladder, a wavy tale about a time traveling estate agent, Chelmsford Film Society have amassed quite the cult following. DVDs of their chemically powered blockbusters Die Hard 5, Halford’s Waterworld and Robocop Minus 1 (in which Robocop and ED-209 go on a massive cocaine bender) have become the stuff of legend, with ravers across the land able to recite chunks of dialogue verbatim. “We have a lot of drugs and references to them in our films. The mess drugs create gives us endless amusement – it erodes social barriers. Dale, David’s character in Essex Girl, is a religious nut who cannot decide which religion to follow. He ends up taking advice from a dodgy voodoo priest and imbibes copious amounts of weed and DMT, resulting in a brain melt for the entire film. We like to play with the extremes of religion and depravity.”

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The Home Counties crew are very serious about their cinematic legacy. “We’ve probably spent 168 hours talking about CGI and using things like After Effects. We came up with a mad stargate wormhole, sphere-shaped aliens and 3D keys. But we decided against all that. We want the film to age well. We don’t want to be the next Lawnmower Man.”

Essex Girl may be more likely to blow up in Brentwood than Hollywood, but you get the feeling that’s the way they want it. After all, each of their productions is a love letter to their much-maligned manor. “It’s okay to be proud of growing up in Essex,” they say. “Most of the UK live in absolute shitholes. People in Chelmsford have turbo-charged motors, smoke the finest solids and listen to drum & bass while on the best pills. We’re not from any London overspill – we’re proper. Who else can claim a Sierra Cosworth as a birthright?”

So what’s on the other side of the Essex stargate then? A permatanned lizard with laser tits and a cosmic vajazzle? “We can’t say. You’ll have to wait and see.”

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