The Short Pub Documentary – A New Artform?

Pub culture lends itself to film-making thanks to its quirks, eye-catching details, and characters.

We’ve been pick­ing up the odd video here and there over the years but hadn’t checked Vimeo for a while. We were lured there this time try­ing to answer a ques­tion about seafood hawk­ers in pubs which turned up this gem direct­ed by Matthew Daunt:

Then, fol­low­ing the bread­crumbs, we found this recent por­trait of the Steve, land­lord of Ye Olde Vic in Stock­port:

(Of his fists: ‘Let me just tell you that they’re only rest­ing, not retired.’)

This next film, The Reg­u­lars, by Grant Hod­geon, is actu­al­ly eight years old but it’s the first time we’ve come across it. It’s an eccen­tric piece in some ways, switch­ing styles, stop­ping and start­ing, but there’s no deny­ing the charm of the raw footage:

And, final­ly, anoth­er Stock­port pub (is every­one there a doc­u­men­tar­i­an?) filmed by Jake Park­er in 2013:

You can real­ly smell the booze and the sticky car­pets in that one, can’t you?

The sim­i­lar­i­ty in tone of these films and oth­ers – wist­ful, slight­ly sad – says some­thing about how the pub is viewed in 21st Cen­tu­ry Britain. We sup­pose it’s because it feels frag­ile or endan­gered as an insti­tu­tion that peo­ple feel moti­vat­ed to doc­u­ment it, while they still can.

Is it a new art­form? The exis­tence of Peter Davis’s 1962 film Pub, avail­able on the BFI DVD of Lon­don in the Raw, would sug­gest not.

4 thoughts on “The Short Pub Documentary – A New Artform?”

  1. A cou­ple of won­der­ful Stock­port films there. The Olde Vic is now a com­mu­ni­ty-owned pub – as shown by the fundrais­ing barom­e­ter on the out­side wall – and I’m pleased to say I own a small share 😀

    The Tiv­iot is sad­ly no longer with us, hav­ing been closed and demol­ished since the film was shot. The out­side gents real­ly were a bit whiffy, though.

    1. I didn’t write about my last vis­it to the Tiv, which for obvi­ous rea­sons I regret now. It was a week­day after­noon – I worked part time in those days – and the room to which I took my pint was occu­pied by two men and a Jack Rus­sell. They weren’t togeth­er; one man was sit­ting on a bench along one wall, star­ing into space, while the oth­er sat on a sim­i­lar bench along the wall to his right, talk­ing to him­self ami­ably but quite loud­ly and at great length. Mean­while the Jack Rus­sell (you’d for­got­ten him, hadn’t you?) sat in the mid­dle of the room star­ing fixed­ly at a point halfway up the wall, com­plete­ly ignor­ing any attempts to get his atten­tion, whether by the vocal drunk or by me. All this, as I say, mid-after­noon on a week­day. I felt sor­ry for the staff.

  2. I know the cock­le man well.

    A wide selec­tion of beer avail­able in the pubs fea­tured, par­tic­u­lar­ly the old vic. One might almost think that this was now an increas­ing­ly com­mon trait amongst pubs all across the coun­try.

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