Wizard Cats: Britain's most unloved subculture

Ninian Doff's new film documents the rise and fall of the UK's most outrageous underground scene: cats in wizard capes

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Wizard Cats: they're real and they're scandalising a Daily Mail reader near you. Co-commisioned by BUG, Adam Buxton's celebrated music video night at the BFI, Ninian Doff made this documentary on the little-known (and totally, totally legitimate) underground scene known only as Wizard Cats. These despicable youths outraged Britain with their thrash metal stylings, their unblinking feline eyes and their utter commitment to wizard capes, only for the scene to abruptly die out in the mid-2000s. Below the cut, Doff talks about his first encounter with their subculture and why DOOM would win in a fight against a Wizard Cat.

Dazed Digital: How did you first come across Wizard Cats?

Ninian Doff: I've got notebooks full of mad rambles, newspaper cuttings, sketches and random facts. There's been a page about Wizard Cats and their story in one of those notebooks for a few years now, and so I've always wanted to make a film about them.

DD: Punk, grime, Wizard Cats - these youth movements were all regarded by establishment Britain with fear and terror. Which was the worst?

Ninian Doff: What really made me want to tell the Wizard Cat story is that I'm really interested in how vilified subcultures are by the media and politicians. They're always about really positive things (art, music, creativity, inventiveness and initiative) but are treated with total panic from the powers that be. The Sex Pistols got arrested and banned for simply playing a song that doesn't even seem that bad now, Thatcher brought in new laws just to stop free raves happening, grime was blamed for just about every crime as if it was a zombie disease. It's bizarre how scared the media and government are of young people coming up with something themselves that's outside mainstream monetising or control. The reason I chose to tell this story through Wizard Cats is that their story is unique for its swiftness. As the film shows it went from harmless fun to moral outrage in just one summer. It's rise and fall was brutal, that's why so few people have heard of the Wizard Cat scene.

DD: You've worked with many musicians on videos. Which musician or band would be able to win in a fight against a Wizard Cat?

Ninian Doff: I think DOOM could just stare them down into submission. No Wizard Cat is a match against the powers of that mask.

DD: Your films all have a big streak of weird running through them - two-faced Mykki Blanco, unicorns on Brick Lane - where do you get your ideas from?

Ninian Doff: If I knew that then I'd be rich... wait I wouldn't, I just have more weird videos to my name. Ha! For me, a question I always ask myself is if there's something in the videos which I've not seen before, is there something unique I'm bringing to the table? I guess that challenge results in pretty odd ideas.

DD: If you had an unlimited budget and you could do the strangest and most out-there thing possible, what would it be?

Ninian Doff: I'm writing a feature film right now abut Isambard Kingdom Brunel building a bridge to the sun. So I'd make that for sure!

BUG celebrates its 100th show this evening at the BFI. You can get tickets here: bugvideos.co.uk

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