PREMIERE – Extreme Conditions: Extreme Responses Documentary

HEADBREWERS BALL is very pleased to be able to premiere Extreme Conditions: Extreme Responses. An investigation into the politics of extreme metal and punk music in the UK.

The debut film of John Consterdine, the aim of the project was to find out whether extreme political conditions – world events such as the election of Donald Trump and Brexit – demand extreme musical responses in the sub-genres of heavy metal and punk. The project also explores the rich and illustrious history of politically and socially charged extreme music from Crass and Napalm Death through to Venom Prison and Dawn Ray’d. 

This documentary was filmed from 2016 to 2018, and looks at how politics and social issues influence the creation of extreme music and their role within the scene. A 6,500 word dissertation report of the same name forms a companion piece to this film.

The project utilises first hand accounts from experts, key players and eyewitnesses within the scene to reveal how extreme music is the ultimate response to the world around us. It looks at why the music has to be extreme in every way, shape and form as well as the path from writing politically and socially aware material to fighting back, by taking to the streets and becoming involved in direct action.

*Full disclosure*

I’ve wanted to make a film for such a long time now, and as first efforts go, I’m really happy with how it turned out. Yes, there are moments were the lighting is crap, yes there might be the odd dodgy edit and there’s probably some other points that would make a more experienced filmmaker cringe. But hey, you live and learn from your mistakes.

So here’s the backstory, this film came about as I was doing a Master’s Degree in Multimedia Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University and had the option to make a short film for my dissertation. Having written about metal and punk for so long, I didn’t want to typecast myself, I wanted to do something different. I had this grand idea about a project that would somehow tell the story of Manchester through particular breweries. It was a lofty concept to begin with, I struggled to get my head around what I even wanted to do with it, and unsurprisingly, it fell by the way side.

“Go with what you know,” was essentially the advice from my dissertation tutor, and she was right. Heavy metal and punk have been my life since I was about 11 years old, so it made sense to go with what I’m passionate about. So that’s what I did, I took the contacts I had, armed myself with research on the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election and wanted to use those as jumping off points to see whether bands I loved had a similar viewpoint to mine or whether they were motivated by other things.

So for most of 2016-2018, I spent my time researching, filming and editing this documentary. I travelled up and down the country with my Dad as my assistant and interviewed friends in the industry, bands that I admire and some absolute legends of extreme music.

As is the way with these things, I ran out of time. There was no way to tell this full story within the confines of a dissertation deadline (for instance I limited myself to just the UK to make this achievable in the timeframe) but I wanted to give it a good go! By the time it came to the edit process I was itching to shoot more footage, interview more people and just build this story into more than what is viewable above. For instance, I really wanted to speak to Dawn Ray’d as part of this, as ‘The Unlawful Assembly’ and the press cycle for that record were a huge inspiration in making this film. Sadly, I couldn’t quite make things work around my own schedule, so it fell by the wayside.

So, as you might have gathered, I’ve been sat on this documentary for a while. I wanted to shoot some more interviews and expand on everything but at the same time I was acutely aware that this film is quite time sensitive and the longer I sit on it waiting for a block of time to do more with it, the more the subject matter would just become irrelevant. For a while I considered this the ‘Dissertation Cut’ and it was even screened at the Telling Tales International Film & Audio Documentary Festival 2018 in Manchester, which was a huge deal for me. Never expected the first film I ever made to be shown at a film festival! Very grateful to Manchester Metropolitan University for that opportunity. As it stands, this is now the final cut of this film, any feedback on it is very much appreciated. Shooting this film gave me plenty of ideas for other avenues to explore and tales to tell so I’m keen to see where they take me at some point.

To accompany this film, I also wrote a 6500 word Dissertation Report Project which contained more on my research, my findings and my work processes. If you’re interested in reading that and learning more then feel free to get in touch via my contact page.

Want more? Here’s a playlist to songs/bands that inspired the process and my research.

– This study would not have been possible without the help of my Dad, Ian, who was my one man road crew for many of the interviews. Thanks for driving to the other end of the country and back to help me set up and film stuff. 

– I would also like to thank my dissertation supervisor Dr. Eleanor Shember-Critchley for the support, enthusiasm and guidance over the course of this study.

– My partner Lauren for her support and encouragement in everything that I do.

– I would also like to extend my gratitude to all the participants involved in this piece of research, without whom I would not have been able to do this.

Extra special thanks to Darren Sadler for all the years of inspiration, and being the best person to bounce ideas around with when it comes to all things heavy.

– Thank you to the following people for going out of their way to help me when it came to making connections to put the film together:
Lauren Barley at Rarely Unable PR, Ian Glasper, Becky Laverty at Pioneer Music Press and Adam Sagir at The Noise Cartel.

– Thank you to both Venom Prison and Uprawr Studios for being so accommodating with my filming requests.

– All the bands whose music and ideas inspired this piece of research and Brutal Truth for inspiring the name of this study.


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