Making Made of Stone with The Stone Roses

06 10 2015

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone is a documentary following the acclaimed British rock band The Stone Roses during their reunion in 2012.

Directed by BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Shane Meadows, Made of Stone features loads of sourced footage (and many, many more hours of film that didn’t make the final cut), found and licensed in house at STALKR.

The documentary has been a favorite among fans and critics alike, with The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw citing it as “warm and energetic, Shane Meadows’s love letter to the Stone Roses may be his best film so far.”

The narrative of the film relied heavily on footage of the band’s original performances as well as never-before-scene video, researched and licensed by our team, led by Archive Producer Sam Dwyer. To take us through the ins and outs of footage for a feature film, we called up Sam to discuss her process, British rock and the intricacies of tracking down material that few people believe existed.

Can you give a little background on the project and at what stage it came to STALKR?

We had personal contacts at Warp Films and I had just finished working with Chris King (BAFTA winner for ‘Senna’) on a film about Damien Hirst, so I knew about the film at a very early stage. We were brought on board early in production, before they even started filming and were kept on for the whole duration of production – a long period not far short of 18 months in the end.

Where did you go to source the footage?

All over – hundreds of people were approached! The usual archives like BBC Motion Gallery and Granada (ITN Source) were mined very early on – that footage had been widely seen and was known about. The band did very few TV appearances due to the strict control of their management at the time, so the challenge was to find other material that had been filmed by non-TV sources and individuals. I contacted professional and amateur filmmakers, journalists, radio stations and archives ranging from people who had been to school with the band to musicians who had toured with the band in the early days to people I knew personally in Manchester. I lived there at that time and had worked for the band’s manager so knew quite a lot of people who were associated with the band.

Once you have a solid bank of footage, what was the next step?

The edit started at the same time as the research so footage was fed constantly to the edit right from the beginning. The director knew that he wanted the archive to act as chapter headings to tell the story of the band’s first incarnation and so those were worked on as self-contained sequences separate from the actuality of the band after their reunion took place. Over the course of the edit, there were a few different editors as a couple had to leave to work on other projects, so I was given different briefs by each of them as the film evolved. Once filming was completed and the director was able to spend more time in the edit, the fine tuning took place and more footage and stills were requested. Once the film edged towards a locked cut, the process of clearing and costing the material started as well as sourcing it on master or hi-res files.

Were there any particularly memorable events from the project?

The whole project was really good fun. From a personal perspective it was great to have the opportunity to track down and contact a lot of people who I had not spoken to in over 25 years. Because of their love of the director’s work, or perhaps an affinity with the band (or both), there was a very positive feeling towards the film being made. Sometimes I even put people in touch with each other who had lost contact and that was a very nice thing to be able to do.

One amusing story which demonstrates the power of the internet is that they wanted to use a piece of audio, which was a Swedish radio interview that existed on YouTube. No one seemed to know who the journalist was that recorded it but I narrowed it down to the town and the date where I thought it took place. I contacted the music editor on the local newspaper who listened to it, passed it around his friends and by the next day had a name and number for me. Within hours I was on Skype with a man called Ola Hermanson who described how he and some friends went to meet the band in Norrköping in 1985. He is now a leading neuroscientist and was amazed that his recording was being used in a film. When reminiscing about something can make people happy, it’s a great result.

A lot of the footage shown in the film had never been seen before. Were there particular sensitivities with that kind of material? In a different vein, was it more exciting to discover that kind of footage (I would imagine it might be like excavating a fossil in ways – a thrilling discovery!)?

This is always sensitive territory. A lot of the material belonged to band members themselves, some of whom had kept very detailed personal archives of photos, magazines and home movies. To be trusted with that kind of material is a huge responsibility and can’t be taken lightly and I had to safeguard it with my life and also be very discreet about the content.

The footage of the legendary concert at Spike Island had never been seen before and was spoken about in almost mythical terms by fans as no one had thought it had been filmed. It was a difficult line to tread to get the best solution for the producers to be able to use what they wanted, but also treat the copyright holders with the respect they deserved as they had been holding onto it until the right project came along.