My Inspiration: Alex Ayre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Photo By Alex Riley

Northumberland based, award-winning documentary filmmaker, Alex Ayre directs North East Noise: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Movie With Clippah, a feature length film that documents the joy and the stresses of being a musician. Premiering digitally on Monday 21st December, the film follows round Alex’s band Clippah to explore the process of growing up in a band and the role of their local community in their musical escapades.

The film will premiere on Clippah’s YouTube channel at 7.30pm on Monday 21st December. Before the big launch we caught up with Alex to find out what inspired the documentary. 

This project is, without a doubt, a product of the pandemic. And by that, I mean that it would never have come to be without the extensive downtime I’ve had this year. When lockdown first started, and my filmmaking schedule came to a sudden stop, I found myself “temporarily” living back in my hometown of Morpeth, Northumberland – where you’ll still find me, all these months later! The members of our band, Clippah, are all local to the area, but, like so many other musicians, we were unable to get together to work on any new material. Generally speaking, I have the bad habit of piling too much work on my plate, and I found it difficult to embrace the unanticipated rest time. So, as always, I looked to find ways to stay busy!

I started going through a load of footage that some amazing filmmaker friends had shot of our band throughout the summer of 2019. By combining this with some phone and flip-cam footage shot by our audience, I had the intention of putting together a short live film that we could release, to fill the void left by the lack of gigs. The process of watching through the hours of material (which, I must admit, I might never have gotten around to watching otherwise) was strangely cathartic for me. It allowed me to spend time with my bandmates and our friends and family, during a period where I couldn’t see anyone in person. In doing so, I also started to think about the impact that being in a band has had on my life, and where I’d be without it. 

As a documentary filmmaker, I love to think about the purpose that contemporary real-life footage will serve for generations to come. Imploring that analytical thinking on our 2019 Clippah footage, I realised that what I had before me was a living, breathing, moving image document of local live music in the North East of England, at a point just before it was forced to stop! And if that was too pretentious a way of looking at things? Well, there were still plenty of amusing clips featuring the characters that come to our gigs!

I decided that I could attempt to produce something that served a bigger purpose than simply promoting our music. We’re a small band, and most people who watch the film will never have heard of us. But we have an amazing set of loyal supporters, and none are more important than our rock ‘n roll parents! I love exploring the process of ageing, and the theme of nostalgia, in my film work. I was able to do this by examining our parents’ journeys and what the band meant to them, and it allowed me to play with some fantastic family archive material, and footage from the amazing North East Film Archive. Other musicians may cringe at the thought of it, but by including our parents in this tale, I felt I was being honest about what inspires our band! 

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