While FinalBoss sits in The Watershed Cinema bar in Bristol, just overlooking the river, surrounded by other patrons all seemingly working away on something creative – having a drink, as they prepare to see the next showing, my interviewee is nowhere to be seen. After thirty five minutes of waiting I receive a phone call – it’s Timon Singh, the creator of Bristol Bad Film Club, a cult movie night hosted every month with an aim to show the best of the worst films ever. Through the phone he tells me that he’s late, and will be there in ten minutes or so.
On finally arriving, Timon fesses up; and tells me that he had entirely forgotten about the interview with FinalBoss – and despite working at The Watershed – had instead cycled home and painted another coat on his house. After a large glass of water, whilst still a little flustered, Timon sat down with us and we got on with our interview:
FinalBoss: How is the job here?
Timon Singh: It’s going pretty well. I’ve been here since before Christmas. I’m the Campaigns Manager for FilmHub South West. Essentially I’m overseeing the marketing for a bunch of independent film titles that benefit from the New Release Strategy – where if there’s an independent film that meets a certain criteria that we feel gets lost among the milieu of many, many films out there, then we offer marketing support and encourage venues around the country to show them to diversify their audiences. It’s a big learning curve, but yeah, it’s been really fun.
FB: I guess you’re the ideal guy for that, being able to search out these obscure, little-seen films, right…?
T: Distributors send them to us and then I meet with representatives from BFI and Into Film, and we look for unique stories and throw support behind these independent films. I know the guys from The Watershed and when the job came up, I met with them and they were like: “This should be easy for you, you’re used to marketing terrible films, why don’t you try your hand at these good films that could use your help?”
FB: How would you describe your official role?
T: I guess my day job is Campaigns Manager for Film Hub Southwest, but I guess on the CV is Event Management, then there is Writer – my first book got published last year – and I guess Producer, I’m overseeing a documentary at the moment.
FB: Is the Producing role for your [In Search of] The Last Action [Heroes] documentary?
FB: How’s that going?
T: That is in the editing process at the moment. I went out to LA in October and did a lot of the interviews until November and that was good fun, but now it’s crafting it in to a story… We were trying to get a few last minute interviews which we’ve done, trying to get a couple of big names which are proving tricksy. But it’s in the editing process now and just getting shaped, and every now and then I’ll watch a new cut give the feedback and yeah, we’re hopefully going to try and get it out over the next few months.
FB: Is it more of a learning curve doing this as well?
T: Absolutely. This was something I kind of fell into purely by happenstance and luck – but it was something I was really passionate about and I’ve been working with a nice group of producers and writers and content experts.
FB: It looks really cool, I’m really looking forward to it. To sum it up, what’s Bristol Bad Film Club?
T: How I pitch it to producers or directors when I’m trying to get the rights to screen their films is it’s a monthly genre film night here in Bristol, where we screen obscure and unique films that don’t otherwise get a big audience and from our screenings all money that we raise goes to a different charity each month. So it’s not for profit, but it is introducing the most bizarre and crazy aspects of cinema to cinephiles in this city – of which there are plenty.
FB: There’s something in the water, isn’t there.
T: Yeah! So when we first started off it was like films that are so bad they’re great; like Plan 9 from Outer Space, and The Room, and Samurai Cop. But, then there were films that you can’t believe got made, like “Roar” where Tippi Hedren and her family made a film where they’re just running away from real-life lions and tigers, and everyone on the cast and crew got maimed… and films like Night of the Lepus which is about giant killer bunny rabbits on the rampage.
FB: Right. Yeah, yeah.
T: So it’s slightly evolved. These films are still quite bad, but it’s not just terrible films, it’s also unique films – “Unique films”.
FB: I like that you saying it’s “evolved”. I like how you sound like some scientist that’s in his lab and he’s gone: “We’ve gone too far. We’re playing God here.”
T: “What have I done?” No, there was this thing earlier on when we started it was like: Oh it’s never going to get bigger than, you know, 60 people above the pub.
FB: Was that its origins then?
T: Yeah, the very first screening was 50 people above the Lansdown Pub in Clifton. And then the next one was 100 or so people. And then I just thought it can’t get bigger than that, on a monthly basis, because I don’t think it will… and our venue that we use now holds 110 people and it always sells out. It’s a good number.
FB: And I think I’ve only been to events that you’ve sold out on.
T: Yeah, and then if we’ve got Greg Sestero in town, we’re doing The Room, we’re doing a double-bill, then I’ll get Winston Theatre which is part of Bristol University. That holds 200 people really nicely, or the Redgrave Cinema.
FB: What’s your film background? Were you always a film fan? Not to pigeon hole you but I had you down as early Sam Raimi, early Peter Jackson.
T: Yeah, I watched Brain-Dead and the like when I was a teenager but my mum was a big film fan and she’s really into musicals, so me and my two brothers grew up watching all the Rodgers and Hammerstein films, Sound of Music, King and I, South Pacific, all the Gene Kelly films – she’s a big Doris Day fan. So it was pretty diverse!
I had a massive VHS collection, stuff that they had recorded off TV. If there was one VHS I think kind of sums up my film education, it had Wizard of Oz on, followed by Star Wars that they’d recorded off the TV, and then The Valley of the Gwangi, which is the Ray Harryhausen film where a bunch of cowboys find dinosaurs.
Every Friday it just became a tradition that we would rent a video, often my dad picked. And my dad judged films purely by their cover, so every now and then he would come back with some piece of schlock and we’d watch it.
FB: Have you seen the newest Star Wars trailer, dropped the other day – –
FB: What did you think?
T: Very exciting. I love it. I’m a bit…
FB: The main question here is what did you think of Last Jedi?
T: I love The Last Jedi.
T: I’m a big Star Wars fan, but like most people I didn’t really like the prequels. For whatever reason.
Then JJ Abrams was a great pick to resurrect it; you’ve got practical effects, real locations – it wasn’t just a green screen in the middle of Australia, and while [The Force Awakens] was good – and reminded people of why they love Star Wars – it was essentially Star Wars: The Greatest Hits.
You had another Death Star, you had Han Solo, everyone came back, and that’s great. I was happy to see them all back as well, but it wasn’t anything really “new”. Whereas The Last Jedi is a film from a director who has a clear vision for his story, [Rian Johnson is] a filmmaker who’s kind of like “I have my vision for Star Wars – you may not agree with it but this is a story I want to tell.”
At this point Timon continues to give me his answer, but I can’t help but cut it for time in this article as it is so truly in depth. As he finished, the most interviewy of things occurs as a man on the next table reveals that he was listening the whole time and thought that it was “a brilliant answer”. With that, Timon thanked him for his eavesdropping and I continue with my next question:
FB: You’ve mentioned The Room three times during this interview. Inevitably it was always going to come up. How many times do you think you’ve seen it?
T: I’ve probably seen The Room about ten – – no, every time we’ve screened it I’ve seen it, so… fifteen times, maybe…?
FB: Very important that I didn’t elaborate on this follow up question, because it just says: “Why?”
T: Why? Why have I seen The Room…? Okey, so I was late to The Room party. I saw it in like 2012, 2011… and it blew my mind. I lost myself for ages, just reading articles about Tommy Wissau, where he came from, how he was financed, who everyone is… and then I became borderline obsessed. I put on a big An Evening With Greg Sestero and all 250 tickets went in, like, 36 hours. He kept coming back. He spent Christmas with my family once. And yeah, I’ve met Tommy (Wiseau) a few times… Tommy’s Tommy… He’s always playing the showman.
FB: I was going to remark on how much charisma he actually had.
T: He’s very charismatic and he’s very charming. He’s very giving, but very demanding at the same time. He’s a fascinating guy. But no, I really like Tommy – he’s a really nice guy, it’s just full-on organising those events.
FB: Did you see the Disaster Artist? What did you think?
T: Loved it. Really enjoyed it, really good adaptation of Greg’s book. Obviously they had to change things from the book, focus more on their friendship, than the trials of making a film, but for an adaptation of it, it’s really good.
FB: With the book, and the Last Action doc coming up, obviously you’re getting more involved – would you produce, would you direct?
T: God, no! I’d never direct. I don’t have that creative eye… I remember making a short film ages ago over a summer at Uni. A short five minute film, and my camera angles were the most uninspired and bland things you’ve ever seen. I’m not a filmmaker. I love watching films. I just enjoy it. I don’t think I have the talent to make films. I just like talking to people about it.
FB: In our first email, I mentioned “Rubber”…
T: Rubber, the killer tyre film.
FB: Correct. I watched it whilst stoned. And there’s no way at all that I was going to watch Rubber whilst sober, and I just wanted to ask, do you think there’s a correlation between getting very high – and bad films?
T: No, absolutely. There’s a reason that we do our screenings in venues that have bars. With a group experience and a few beers these movies are even more fun. I think it definitely helps.
FB: You were on (hit BBC Gameshow) Pointless.
T: I was on Pointless (laughs).
FB: Also inevitable. Was always going to come up. Now this is where I cross-examine you.
T: Go on.
FB: Does it at all feel apt that you, a man who specialises in the weird and obscure, has gone on a gameshow called “Pointless”?
T: That is precisely why we went on.
FB: Bravo. Bravo.
T: We thought, look, if there’s any show where we’d can do well, it’s Pointless.
FB: And you won, didn’t you?
T: We did win. We won our 500 pounds each, got the trophy, which is great.
FB: What’s next?
T: It’s the 65 year anniversary of Godzilla this year, so I’m hosting a Godzilla double-bill of the original Godzilla, and Destroy All Monsters. I’ve got Jason Mewes of Jay & Silent Bob fame coming to Bristol.
With that Timon gets his phone from his pocket and reveals a long list of upcoming events, including the niche to the extraordinarily popular – each of them very likely to sell out. Any upcoming events can be found on The Bristol Bad Film Club website. Timon’s book “Born To Be Bad” can be purchased here.