The ‘gritty’ Portsmouth film which promises hard-hitting reality

An intriguing glimpse suggests production values are polished, yet content purportedly retains a certain rawness.

Saturday, 6th April 2019, 10:58 am
Updated Saturday, 6th April 2019, 11:17 am
Southsea Common title celebrations in May 2017 provided a fitting conclusion to forthcoming Pompey documentary 'Our Club'. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘This film is not a Manchester City or Sunderland thing, where five people turn up to a match and have every angle covered,’ said producer and director Barney Fox.

‘This is gritty, behind the scenes, GoPros everywhere, small cameras in tight to people, not so glitzy. This is the reality.’

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Southsea Common title celebrations in May 2017 provided a fitting conclusion to forthcoming Pompey documentary 'Our Club'. Picture: Joe Pepler

The past eight months have seen the release of Netflix’s ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’ and ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ from Amazon Prime.

With each series spanning eight episodes, they focus on their respective club’s wildly-differing 2017-18 campaigns, productions which subsequently earned critical acclaim.

Zanda Films have opted for a more ambitious subject, covering not merely a season but a nine-year Fratton Park period.

Narrated by Ian Darke, the film opens from the 2008 FA Cup final victory and subsequently charts an extraordinary tale culminating with the 2017 League Two title triumph.

Having spent five-and-a-half years in production and garnered first-hand accounts from 50 people, it represents a comprehensive examination.

Following this week’s release of a teaser exclusive to The News, a cinematic release is planned next month.

Fox, who has worked on the film with Remy Martin, said: ‘What we have tried to do is keep the film tight, keep it relative to what it’s about.

‘It represents how a community came together, ultimately saving their football club. Then it’s a reflection of how the club was run during that community era.

‘This is not a Netflix kind of production such as Sunderland, where you follow everybody around. This is a different side to football, probably the not so glamorous side.

'We are not looking at the intricate details of the playing squad, it’s about what it’s like to run a football club. The reality is, those first couple of years of community ownership were tough.

‘This isn't set up in any way. I think some of the comments you hear from those we have interviewed are shocking, in terms of the realities of football.

‘As a fan, you listen to some of the dialogue and learn what really happened, this is reality.

‘It’s not a big budget film, but I think we are getting something very different. We cannot compete with those mega productions, so why try?

‘We have a story, a very, very unique story. If people think this film is going to be a 10-parter stepping through the playing side of things, they are wrong. That is not a film we are going to make.

‘We weren’t there analysing everything, we were more interested in finding out what exactly happened to this club.

‘The Sunderland and Manchester City series are fantastic, there are other great football films also out there, I’m not knocking any of them.

‘For us there is no comparison, you don’t go out to make these films and look at someone and say “I want to make this film or that film”.

‘You try to make a film which represents the conversation and the story which took place.’

An exhaustive cast of eyewitness accounts consist of Iain McInnes, Peter Storrie, Balram Chainrai, Mick Williams, Johnny Moore, Jo Collins, Ashley Brown, Paul and Sarah Banks, Jake Payne, Nick Bain, Bob Beech and Micah Hall.

The outcome is a 70-minute documentary which will be shown for the first time on May 15 at the No6 Cinema in the Historic Dockyard.

A champagne reception will mark the launch of ‘Our Club’ at an invite-only event, with those involved in its production set to attend.

However, two public screenings are also planned at the independent cinema, taking place on May 22 and 29, with more details to be announced.

In addition, executive producer Colin Farmery is exploring the potential to distribute the documentary through downloading options.

Fox added: This film could have been a six-part series because of the in-depth research.

'We have a huge amount of interviews, a huge amount of content, but this is going to be a short, sharp, punchy documentary telling the story.

‘We want to keep everybody on their seats and not make the eye wander.

‘At the moment, we don’t yet know about details of the general release – and I know that is a bit of a bizarre answer.

'However, with this film, we haven’t really followed a standard practice of how we do these things. Usually you would sign some form of distribution agreement, but that is not the case here.

‘Ultimately it is down to where we feel the film sits.

‘For example, we are looking at using a direct route to market through iTunes and want to get it out to the fans soon.

‘Firstly there are going to be a couple of runs at No6 Cinema and hopefully that will fulfil supporter appetite to see the film on a grand scale.

‘We have three versions of the film and are in the final tweaking stages of putting it all together – then looking at some form of general release in June.’

The documentary concludes on a high, through securing the League Two title in May 2017.

It not only marked the wrapping up of filming, but the end of fan ownership, with Tornante waiting in the wings to buy the Blues.

Now with the film having secured crucial additional funding through Pompey president Ian Silvester, the outcome of their endeavours is finally ready to be shown.

Fox said: ‘I think it’s gritty, although I suppose that is down to the audience to decide.

‘We were shocked at some of the things we heard.

‘This multi-million pound business and you’re looking into the dealings of the club thinking “Wow, how could this happen? How could this honestly happen?”.

‘But it did.’