THE SCOOTERISTS film interview with Andy Hylton | FEATURE
The Scooterists film trailer
Boooom! The Scooterists film trailer landed on social media like a meteorite, clocking-up a quarter of a million views on Facebook in a blink. It stands out not only in terms of cinematography but in the treatment of scooterists as a distinct tribe; recognition not often given by the Mod-obsessed media.
Andy Hylton’s trailer breaks away from the clichéd narrative. This is honest, gritty and a welcome fresh perspective on a lifestyle that so many of us have lived and loved. The term ‘trailer’ tantalises. Andy clearly has more up his sleeve planned for The Scooterists and as always you can rely on SLUK to keep you up to date.
Sticky turns a spotlight back on the director for interrogation purposes…
What’s your background in film-making?
For the last 20 years, I have been a freelance music video director, working with bands and recording artists from all the major music labels: Sony, Universal Music, Virgin EMI and Warner Records. I also produce documentaries, concert films and have been developing some drama feature projects.
I trained in documentary film and photography at Hull and relocated to Brighton in 1996 – with no real plans of how I was going to get into the industry. Music has always been my first love, and my passion for vinyl LP’s inspired a short film called Vinyl – about a vinyl obsessive’s search for a funk LP in Brighton. I had spoken to Norman Cook AKA Fatboy Slim about using one of his tracks in the soundtrack, and shortly after this SKINT Records asked me to shoot my first music video for them back in 1999.
I won my first award for best video at the UK Garage Awards 2001 and I’ve worked extensively for many black British artists such as So Solid Crew, Kano and Shy FX.
I was keen not be categorised as only making urban music videos and I ended up shooting four videos for The Ordinary Boys, (Boys Will Be Boys etc) six videos for Paul Heaton and a high-point was working with musical hero Paul Weller for ‘Come On Let’s Go’.
Music is one of the most powerful tools a filmmaker can use to inject emotion and affect the mood of the viewer. Ultimately it’s all about visual story-telling and the right music can transport the viewer to any time and any place.
You aren’t a scooterist, so what prompted you to make the trailer for The Scooterists?
That’s very true I don’t own a scooter, but I am a filmmaker. I know my F-stops from my B-rolls. My attraction to scooters has been like an itch that’s been bothering me for over 40 years and this year I am buying a scooter. So instead of looking in from the outside, I can be part of it.
My first memory of scooters was back in 1978 as a ten-year-old kid growing up in Scarborough. It was August bank holiday and the first time I recall smelling a two-stroke engine, sitting on a hill on the North Bay and watching them buzz along the seafront in my home town.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Ska and Two-Tone and working as a video director I have an interest in subcultures, music, and photography. Living in Scarborough it was all part of growing up to see scooters arriving during Easter and summer school holidays. My sister and her boyfriend were punks and got beaten up by Mods in 1978. There was no avoiding the scene in Scarborough in those days.
I’d met some of the lads from the Castle Coasters and one of these, Kevin Seaward, had been helping me find scooters for a Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott music video I was filming in Scarborough. The idea being that there would be a Northern Soul ‘period’ feel to the music video in terms of styling and transport, and Kevin gladly offered to wrangle scooters for me. It was Kevin who suggested I should film the Scarborough Easter National in 2017 and put that out as a DVD. The more I spoke to the Scooterists the deeper I felt about the subject. I began to realise this is a much bigger story and it deserves a proper in-depth documentary.
How did you go about production- where was it shot and how did you find people to be involved?
The first thing I did was contact Steve Foster at VFM. I knew I had to earn his trust. Once he gave us access to the VFM music events at the Spa we were able to start filming without restrictions.
The initial project was self-funded with myself and business partner Matt Barry, and we kicked off with the Easter National in Scarborough 2017. It was a two-camera, four-man shoot. We used a drone to shoot the Spa and Castle Coasters organised the ride out to Oliver’s Mount which is featured in the trailer. Matt knew nothing about the scooter scene; coming more from the rave scene. He was captivated by speaking to people and became our ‘presenter’ in relaxed conversations with those we met along the way.
The first people we spoke to were Leeds based Gemini SC. We clocked the matching sweatshirts and club logos on a group of scooterists in the Albert Pub and approached a man at the bar to introduce ourselves. It was Martin ‘Stokky’ Stockdale and we had a great night drinking with some of the first arrivals. Martin told us to come back at lunchtime the next day to film the arrival of the rest of the club. We built up their trust and recorded some interviews.
That’s the key for us – to be honest and upfront and accepted. We have no agenda other than to be as authentic as possible and to listen. We continued filming at the next Bridlington event with a smaller crew, including one of our roller-blading cameramen. That’s a great skill which gave us some fantastic footage and scooters-eye perspective.
The trailer has a very strong northern bias. Is that the concept for the final film or will it be more national/international?
I’m a Yorkshireman so I can’t help but have a strong northern perspective. The story of the northern scooterboy could be a film all of its own. I don’t see much difference when it comes to scooterists, but the northern pride came across so passionately during the interviews. The trailer was shot in Bridlington and Scarborough but the documentary aims to represent a broad spectrum of scooterists from all across the national UK scooter scene. What’s that famous quote? “There is more that unites us than divides us.”
Andy's video for 'I don't See Them' featuring the Scarborough Castle Coasters SC
What is the plan for the full version – is it commissioned or a personal project?
It is definitely a personal project and that means that I have more creative control over the content and the overall ‘voice’ of the film. The more people from the scene that get involved the better we can co-ordinate shooting around the country. We plan to follow some scooter clubs and individuals on their own journeys, including travelling to Yorkshire, Isle of Wight, Llandudno, Weston Super Mare, Mersea, Europe and I’m keen to visit Rimini Lambretta. The idea is to create something that goes deeper than just reporting on just what’s going on. I want to speak to people who have lived this life for a number of years and for them to show us their scooters.
The film will be initially available online but I’m also interested in speaking to broadcasters and distributors. The film is intended to be targeted towards those who have a passion for the scene and not so much towards non-scooterists, but I see this as a great festival film too.
How do you plan to fund production?
Since launching the trailer we have been contacted by many potential sponsors and offers of help. We want the film to be owned by the scooter community, so a crowd funder would be the obvious way forward. It would be a fantastic opportunity for workshops and scooter related brands to support us and we will be offering the opportunity for these brands to get something back for their investment. By this I mean cutting branded clips which they will be able to share on social media – kind of mini-commercials for the services they offer. We think it is a good way of supporting the scene that will be supporting us.
One of the advantages of running a crowd-funded campaign would be that I can pre-sell the film on BluRay or DVD as a limited edition run. The most important thing is to produce a film that scooterists are interested to see. The fact that they can be part of its production is an exciting prospect.
What is the synopsis for the full version – is the plan fixed or is it still fluid?
It’s a feature-length documentary about the history and lifestyle of the UK scooter scene, told passionately by those who ride them.
The process of developing these kinds of films is always organic. All the social media comments so far are really useful as I know what the film shouldn’t be. It definitely won’t be a magazine format like Top Gear and it won’t be another TV news feature style. It needs to more than just scooters; such as friendship, honour, commitment, solidarity, family, and equality – the kind of things that REALLY matter!
My documentary background has served my filmmaking career so far, not just that I have learned to work with small crews often with limited control over situations. I’ve always been interested in representing the truth in so many different ways. Capturing the authenticity of the people is an important factor in making documentary films or music videos that will engage the viewer.
‘Scooterists’ is a massively broad subject, arguably covering almost 70 years. Is there a particular corner of this subject that you plan to concentrate on?
I’m driven by the same passion that everyone feels for the scooter lifestyle, the friendships, but foremost – the scooters. It’s a documentary about a love of scooters; old-school to new-school, choppers, racers and rats. So it’s all relevant to an interesting discussion.
Making a film called ‘The Scooterists’ allows me to cover the decades, without focusing on just one specific time period. I am very interested in the era between the late 70s and through to the mid-80s. Musically it was fantastic, and there were particular social/political events, such as the inner city riots during the summer of 1981, that changed the way the Police dealt with groups of young people travelling to towns for the weekend. Mark Brough’s book Time Trouble & Money was a massive influence on my approach from the perspective of the northern working-class lad who started in the 70s. I hope to accurately represent it whilst telling it from my distinct point-of-view.
The media typically only focus on the scooters with mirrors and lights but that’s not my angle. I’m more into the people and what drives their passions for the scooter.
I think it is time to show that scooters aren’t just about mirrors, lights and the accessories. No doubting that 1960s Mods were there first but I’ve spoken to many who tell me it was the 70s and 80s scooterists that kept the scene alive since then.
Most non-scooterists might consider anyone on a scooter as a Mod. Many of the Scooterboys that I speak to have shared similar thoughts on being labelled as Mods, as I am sure some Mods don’t like to be called Scooterboys. Personally, I love seeing a 60s scooter covered in mirrors and lights coming down the street. It’s a massive statement. Many are more concerned with the power output, speed, custom work and the overall history than what they wear. It’s all good and worthy of discussion in the film.
What is it about the scooterist scene that appeals to you as a subject matter as opposed to Modernism?
I was always captivated by the design of the Italian scooter, but I ended up being drawn toward the safety of four-wheels after buying an old ’73 Ford Capri. I quickly moved onto driving VW Beetles and camper vans and became a regular at the national events at Bug Jam – drag racing up the strip at Santa Pod. The camaraderie I felt with my fellow Beetle owners and the small club we had in Scarborough was something that I recognised about the scooter scene. Unfortunately, VW rallies never had the tunes – I love Ska.
Britain has always been drawn into factions, followed flags, teams and shields. I’m interested in featuring the subcultures traditionally known within the scene, but I’m equally interested in the future direction. I’ve been talking to Terry Walters about the Darkside movement, Italjet Dragster scooters and tuned-up Lambretta racing. I’m keen to speak to the whole scene and have them tell their side of the story – alongside filming some beautiful machines. I read all the comments on the Facebook groups and I am feeding these thoughts into the film. I’m into the faces, the regional dialects, the overall British story of the scooter – the individual stories and what brings everyone together. It’s something I would want to watch so that’s the best starting point for me.
When do you expect to release it?
Once we start the crowdfunding we plan to start collecting interviews around the country. I have a few destinations in mind but we intend to finish editing and release around November 2019. That will be 40 years after the UK release of Quadrophenia so that will be ironic.
Where are people likely to see you filming next?
Scarborough in Easter will be the first rally. We will also be contacting some individuals and scooter clubs prior to the National events. Each of our scooterists should have a unique perspective or story to tell. For example, I was contacted by Clive and Pam Jones, (Original CJ Scooters) one of the original scooter dealers on the high street and one of the first dealers on the scooter rally scene. He’s retiring and clearing the shop so I’m interested in hearing their story from the old days and filming in the shop before it is emptied. I’m also speaking with Chris Macnamara and his story is fascinating – keeping his feet firmly in the scooter scene whilst running The Brogue Trader shoe shops around the UK. As soon as we start getting some seed-money in then we can continue to film.
For all those who support the idea of a crafted filmic story about the scooter are happy to come on that road with me, so watch out for more information on our Facebook page soon.
More 1980s scooterboy nostalgia coming up soon
Scooterboys – 1980s nostalgia
Those fascinated by the history of the British scooterist scene have plenty to look forward to in the coming months on SLUK.
Sticky has interviewed Northern Mod Scene and Scootermania Magazine founder Martin Dixon for us and also for his forthcoming book Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe.
SLUK will be the only online retailer for author-signed copies available ahead of the official publication date and together with a limited-edition freebie.
New products always in development…