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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