Bring back Screen Test!

I have mixed feelings when watching films and TV shows set in the 1980s. Look at all those silly haircuts! Why did everyone look like they got dressed in the dark? WHERE OH WHERE DID MY YOUTH GO?

The eighties are a popular target for today’s film-makers as that’s when they grew up. Or “came of age” as they like to put it for some poncy reason, usually in a fake American accent voicing over all the best clips. That’s when today’s pros started making films themselves, using cine cameras or clunking great VHS video cameras the size of Cardiff.

For young amateur film-makers the must-watch of those halcyoff early Thatch days was TV’s Screen Test, where for most of the show bespectacled proto-nerds were probed by Brian Trueman (who replaced Michael Rodd) on excerpts from the latest blockbusters. (Except, as I remember, they were never the blockbusters we actually wanted to see – presumably the studios refused permission to show long clips. We watched anyway, hoping that this week, this week would be the week they’d show a clip from Star Wars.)

The quiz was, generally, tedious and overloaded with earnest Children’s Film Foundation tosh. But Screen Test’s Young Film-makers Competition was more interesting. My brother and I never created anything we deemed worthy of submission; shame, really, I think we could have done well. Some of the films they showed, I remember, were rubbish.

I’d like to have made a version of Poltergeist, the pirate video of which scared the bejebus out of me on several occasions (the soundtrack still sends a shiver down my spine). I’m not sure that would have been suitable for tea-time telly, though. And we’d have had trouble with the special effects. Today’s kids could knock up something like that over a long weekend and already be yesterday’s Internet meme by the following Thursday.

So yes. Eighties, Screen Test. Which brings me to Son of Rambow, in which an eighties scruff teams up with a religious extremistmember of the Plymouth Brethren, plus a French exchange student and sundry hangers-on, to make a film – Son of Rambow – for Screen Test, and Hilarity Ensues.

Less hilarity than I was expecting, though; it’s funny, yes, but deeper than that. It’s about how friends and family can collide.

Believable performances all round, I felt. Jessica StevensonHynes plays it straight as Religious Mum, and the two main child actors are pretty good. Adam Buxton has a humorous cameo, not quite as gory as his role in Hot Fuzz.

There are a few authentic scenes from Screen Test in the film: in one of them we see the young film-maker trophy being awarded to some geeky speccy chap. That, it turns out, was Jan Pinkava: he went on to win an Oscar and co-direct Pixar’s recent Ratatouille. Yeah. Geek.

That could have been me, you know. I coulda been a contender. Had I actually entered.

Avaragado’s rating: one Kia-Ora multipack


Leave a comment

Filed under Random

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.