Glastonbury Flashback is a new film made from 100 plus hours of material shot at the 1993 Glastonbury Festival. Back in 1996 we released Glastonbury The Movie in UK cinemas based on the same footage and we’ve spent that last two years revisiting that material with the benefit of hindsight and modern digital technology to produce a fresh view on what is widely regarded as the last of the old-school Glastonburys. It was the year before network TV started broadcasting the festival live and cameras were a very unfamiliar sight - let alone movie cameras. So there was an innocence in people's response to us which allowed us to capture a very truthful record of the spirit of festival culture.
“Now that digital technology has caught up and there’s a whole new toolkit to work with, the time seemed right to remake it for a new generation of cinema goers. Once we'd started it was hard to stop. In essence, we stripped it right back, looked at all of our material afresh and made the film again from scratch.
"We found a load of fantastic unseen footage amongst the rushes - new performances, funny little moments, expansions of the stories we touch on - and now we've been able to give ourselves the opportunity to properly craft what we set out to do all those years ago. We also used a top sound engineer to remaster all the music from the original live recordings and produced a spanking new Dolby cinema mix. The original was a very rewarding film to make, but this takes it to another level.
“A lot of the footage had taken on a new significance with the benefit of hindsight and each instance of finding a gem that was overlooked in the original film was a eureka moment. It became a bit of an obsession. You often hear stories about the life-changing effect that Glastonbury has on its participants that you don’t hear about other festivals, an intangible sense of the mystical that catches people unawares. Having been to the festival before, many of us were familiar with this. The area in which it is situated has for thousands of years been a draw for people in search of transcendence. Lay-lines run through the festival site, Glastonbury Tor can be seen only a couple of miles away and Stonehenge is just down the road. I find this side of Glastonbury the most interesting. For a lot of people I think it’s this feeling of connection that they sense when they are there that keeps drawing them back, no matter who is on the main stage.
"One thing we realised was that, because our main shoot was in 1993, we made the decision to focus on that one iconic year. I think it was a significant moment in the history of Glastonbury. TV cameras hadn't arrived yet (the first year it was broadcast live was 1994) and popular culture in the UK was just about to undergo a seismic shift. You look back on what is only a short time ago and it seems like another age. Because we were trying to represent the sense of being at the festival from a ground level perspective, from the point of view of festival goers, and not just point our cameras at the bands, we've ended up with a telling picture of British life at that time."
In 1993 a group of film-makers, multimedia artists, cinematographers and musicians found themselves presented with an unmissable opportunity. Some of us had just produced an independent UK feature film, The Punk, A big noise had just been made about it at the Cannes Film Festival, distributors from all over the place were coming up with advances and Channel 4 had stumped up a big cheque for the rights to show it.
At a press screening in London the engineer from Dolby mentioned that he ran the cinema field at Glastonbury and would like to show it there. The producers of The Punk decided to make that the world premiere. Then the thought of shooting a film at the festival started to ferment. It was only a couple of months away so it was a quick brew.
Michael Eavis was up for it. So we made a few calls and when the cheque from Channel 4 cleared we bought £30,000 worth of film-stock, hired CinemaScope, 16mm and TV cameras, along with DAT recorders and a 16-track studio housed in the back of a camper-van.
The organisers allowed 40 of us to camp up behind the Jazz Stage and we went for it, filming round the clock for 10 days. We wanted to make a feature length trip that made viewers feel they’d been dropped bang in the middle of Glastonbury, to create as pure and truthful a representation of the festival experience as we could.
The weather was glorious and the consensus was that we might have captured the soul of what was arguably one of the last of the great ‘old school’ Glastonburys, a lost world before the TV companies arrived.
The original film took 2 years to complete and after its Premiere at the Odeon in Leicester Square by the London Film Festival in November 1995 it was awarded a National Lottery grant to support the cinema release. Glastonbury The Movie was the very first film to be Lottery awarded. It was also one of the first films in the UK to be mixed using Dolby’s new Digital audio system (the forerunner to 5.1).