Frank Sidebottom documentary uncovers 'the man behind the papier mache head'

Penarth Times: FILMMAKER: Director Steve Sullivan with the iconic Frank Sidebottom paper mache head FILMMAKER: Director Steve Sullivan with the iconic Frank Sidebottom paper mache head

A PENARTH filmmaker is hoping a documentary about the man behind the Frank Sidebottom character will attract a new legion of fans to the iconic Manchester comedian.

Director Steve Sullivan crowd sourced nearly £50,000 to fund the project from Frank Sidebottom’s loyal fanbase and has interviewed a host of famous faces to get a better picture of “the man behind the papier mache head”.

Steve, 39, has now finished interviewing all of Frank’s friends and family, including the likes of Johnny Vegas, Ross Noble, John Thompson from the Fast Show and poet John Cooper Clark, and is now editing all of it down into a documentary.

He hopes that 'Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story' will be finished by early May this year.

Steve, of Marine Parade, said that he was given the opportunity to meet the Northern alternative comedian himself in 2006 when he filmed Frank Sidebottom’s Magical Timperley Tour, an open top bus tour of the beauty spots and civic amenities of Timperley.

Steve said that filming Chris Sievey’s life and interests, by interviewing those close to him and going through boxes of his work, had given him a “fascinating insight into the man himself”.

“I met him once and for most of that time he was the Frank Sidebottom character, so being able to see the man himself behind the papier mache head was the biggest possible shock.”

He added: “The film is about Chris and his creative process, but you can’t cover him without spending a lot of the time studying Frank Sidebottom.”

Steve added that work on the documentary begun after he started researching into Chris Sievey’s life.

“Eighteen months ago I emailed his brother about a documentary about who really was behind the Frank Sidebottom papier mache head and it was perfect timing as he had emptied the contents of his house of 100 boxes of his things,” he said.

“Soon I was sitting in Cardiff with 100 boxes of almost his complete life.

“It was an incredible insight into his creative process.”

He added: “He was a man with two careers as before Frank in the 1970’s he was in a band called The Freshies.

“The documentary asks why he created an alter ego and where did the real Chris Sievey go.”

Steve said one of the highlights of his career was when his short film ‘A Heap of Trouble’ won a Bafta Cymru Best Short Film award and was selected for International Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001.

“It was a surreal comedy about nine naked men walking down a road in Cardiff,” he said.

“It was one of the only Welsh films to be shown at Cannes and also won the Grand Jury Prize at the Montreal Comedy Festival.”

'Frank', a film about Frank Sidebottom featuring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson, is due to be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival today, January 17, ahead of opening in cinemas nationwide in May.

“Anybody that sees that film because of Michael Fassbender will find out about Frank Sidebottom too,” added Steve.

For more information about Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story go to http://www.beingfrankmovie.com

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