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Photo by Travis Street

All Tomorrow's Parties Film

The documentary tours the UK ahead of its DVD release and we speak to producer Luke Morris about why it's taken so damn long to make the film.

Everybody knows All Tomorrow’s Parties put together the most gloriously debauched Holiday-Camp-based music festivals going. In the 10 years since ATP’s inception, the festival has been responsible for an unprecedented influx of check-shirted middle-class hipsters into the Pontins and Butlins camps in Camber Sands and Minehead, who gather together to party hard in weird little chalets and watch loads of really cool bands loved by people who work in really cool record shops.

After spending years amassing and editing mountains of footage shot at ATP gigs by over two hundred fans, musicians and filmmakers, Warp Films are finally releasing the eagerly-anticipated All Tomorrow’s Parties film, which is as raw, fragmentary and teeming with exciting wobbly energy as stumbling around the festival stoned out of your box. Avant-garde darling Jonathan Caouette and the brilliantly-named jazzy music film-maker Vincent Moon both shoulder the camera to make some key contributions, and the film features performances from the likes of Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, The Boredoms, Animal Collective, Daniel Johnston, Mogwai, GZA and Iggy And The Stooges.
Because these ATP types don’t seem to be able to do anything without making it into some kind of super cool gig, the movie is being launched this week with a live theatrical tour featuring a screening of the film and a live show from ATP faves Les Savy Fav. We decided to have a pre-party carnage natter with Luke to find out more...

Dazed Digital: The film embodies a rather unconventional approach to the genre of live music documentary. Why did you choose to go down this route?
Luke Morris: The film condenses 600 hours of footage from 200 contributors shot on a variety of formats including DV, Super 8 and mobile phone. The idea was to use the footage to create a collage that would represent the spirit of the festival and sustain the DIY aspect that All Tomorrow’s Parties and Warp are all about. Thurston Moore called All Tomorrow’s Parties the ultimate mixtape and we wanted to convey that idea on film.
DD: Jonathan Caouette doesn't seem like the most obvious candidate for director, either. How did he get involved?
Luke Morris: Jonathan’s film Tarnation was an auto documentary made from mixed format footage with a low-fi soundtrack of ATP regulars like Low so it had a lot in common with what we were doing. He knew going into it it was going to be entirely unlike the Tarnation experience – which he’d spent many years making entirely on his own on computer. This process was entirely collaborative, working with fans and key contributors like Nick Fenton who made sense of all the chaos.

DD: There's a lot of quite sketchy footage employed in the film. What are the advantages, in your opinion, of using this kind of filming, rather than employing those big jazzy cameras and rigs that we see at festivals like Glasto?
Luke Morris: Those kind of sweeping crane shots seem entirely unlike the experience of being at those big shows and are so at odds with our ambition to capture the feeling of being there. We worked on the basis that as long as we had good, clean sound recordings we could go quite dirty on the visuals. We felt this represented the perspective of the crowd.
DD: What's your favourite performance in the film?
Luke Morris: The Lightning Bolt moment sums up a lot of what the festival and film are about – the intimacy between the fans and the musicians is amazing.

DD: There's been talk of this film being in production for quite some time. Why is it that it's taken about 400 years to come out?
Luke Morris:  It took about 399 years to collect and organise the footage, and one year to properly edit.

The documentary All Tomorrow’s Parties tours the UK from October 23 with Les Savy Fav and is released on DVD November 9th. ATP: Nightmare Before Christmas curated by My Bloody Valentine is on from 4-6 December and Ten Years of ATP Festival from 11-13 December