Profiled by Saviour: Shane Meadows

Shane Meadows is a man who needs no introduction, but we’ll give him one anyway; one of the most iconic British directors of recent years, his unique method of telling engaging stories about ordinary people has gained him a cult following and a number of awards over the years.

Born in the Staffordshire town of Uttoxeter on 26 December 1972, he came from a normal working class family and dropped out of school before his O Levels. His restlessness led to him becoming a petty thief but soon decided that film making was much more to his taste, and started producing his own short films.

It wasn’t long before the film industry sat up and took notice and he soon received funding to create his first full length feature film Twentyfourseven which was released to critical acclaim. He followed this up with A Room For Romeo Brass and Once Upon A Time In the Midlands, but it was the dark thriller Dead Man’s Shoes which really got peoples’ attention – a film so good we based a jacket on it.

By now, Shane was becoming a household name in British movie circles and it was This Is England that cemented his place in film-making history.

This semi-autobiographical film told the story of a troubled young teenager named Shaun Field (we see what he’s done there) in the 1980s getting involved with a gang of skinheads who are eventually pulled apart by politics when hard man Combo returns from prison (played by Stephen Graham, who we profiled a few weeks ago). It was met with positive reviews, won a number of awards and left a noted impact on many viewers following its harrowing final scenes.

Shane isn’t afraid of venturing into the small screen, and This is England ’86, his four part sequel to the cult film, was broadcast in Autumn 2010 and gave viewers a chance to catch up on the lives of his characters a few years later.

The spin off was so successful that Shane is currently writing a feature length follow up meeting the cast again during Christmas 1988. This is due to be screened on Channel 4 over the festive period this year, with filming expected to start soon.

He’s recently dabbled in screenwriting for commercials, putting together this advert for Robinson’s which has his style written all over it and is a definitely a welcome break from the usual roundup of cheesy and just downright annoying adverts we’re usually treated to between programmes.

So can the man do any wrong? It seems not. Once Upon A Time In The Midlands was met with less positive reviews than some of his other work and not everyone was keen on his foray into TV, but he’s remained in the hearts of the critics throughout and no matter what people think of his work he always manages to get people talking and his influence is felt throughout the film world.

We salute a true British film legend.

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Massive Attack – Blue Lines – 20 Years On

Many albums which seem innovative and original quickly become dated. However, if you can make an album which still sounds fresh and modern two decades after its release you’re definitely onto a winner.

Massive Attack’s groundbreaking Blue Lines album was released this month back in 1991, but just one listen to this iconic CD and you wouldn’t think its 20 years old.

One of the album’s most recognisable songs is the haunting Unfinished Sympathy, which is often voted one of the best songs of all time in various polls and surveys. The song wasn’t just influential musically, its music video featuring vocalist Shara Nelson walking through Los Angeles was one of the earliest videos to use one continuous shot.

How to define Massive Attack’s music was something that music journos over the world struggled with, before eventually coining the phrase “trip-hop”, something the group hated according to Grant Marshall aka Daddy G. In an interview in 2006, he said: “You know, as far we were concerned, Massive Attack music was unique, so to put it in a box was to pigeonhole it and to say, ‘Right, we know where you guys are coming from.’ And we didn’t know where we were coming from half the time.”

Following Blue Lines, they band have continued to produce experimental albums, with various members of the group leaving at certain points and a mixture of guest vocalists helping to make their cutting edge sound. They’ve also continued to be at the forefront of coming up with unique music videos, one of the most memorable being the video for Teardrop from Mezzanine which features a singing foetus.

And their lasting influence? Any number of groups in various genres would cite Massive Attack as a key influence, and being able to produce innovative album after innovative album means that you never know what to expect from their next offering so they’re always keeping their fans on their toes.

If you haven’t already, check out our ‘paying homage’ piece to Massive Attack, a polo-shirt inspired by Blue Lines.

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