Upper Spernal Blues (2004)
I grew up in Warwickshire, where my closest childhood friend was the son of a neighbouring cereal farmer. As a boy I played on the farm and later, as a teenager, I worked on it during the summers, helping get the harvest in. During that time a wealthy businessman invested in the farm, as a result of which it expanded in size tenfold, from 500 acres to around 5000.
A decade or so later the farmer died and the farm was inherited by his son - my childhood friend Granville. Not longer after that the businessman also passed away, and a new investor had to be found to take his place. That investor that eventually came on board was the notorious poet and publisher Felix Dennis, who had a home in - and a passion for - Warwickshire. I never met Dennis in person, but my friend asked me if I'd make a film about the farm as a welcome gift for him.
Owner of one of the first generation handheld digital video cameras (a Sony PC1E, in case you're interested), and in need of an excuse to use it to shoot something other than my home movies, I gladly obliged. Upper Spernal Blues is the film that resulted, my little tribute to that Warwickshire farm and the countryside in which I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood.
This countryside also features heavily in my new novel Midland, so if you'd like to get a flavour of the area where the book is set, you could do worse that watch this film.