A new short documentary about legendary sci-fi writer and one of the island’s greatest ever writers, Nigel Kneale, has been produced.
Out of Darkness: A Manx Visionary, produced by Zoe Tweedy and featuring Nigel’s biographer Andy Murray was supported by one of Culture Vannin’s 40th anniversary grants.
Two special screening events with a double bill of The Stone Tape (1972) have been organised, the first of which has already sold out.
Zoe told Island Life: ‘As most local people, I had heard Nigel’s name as a writer and was familiar with his short stories like Tomato Cain but I wasn’t at all aware that he had done any screen work.
‘This is quite bizarre as I had spent years studying film which became a passion and am myself Manx, and it was quite coincidentally I came across Nigel’s The Stone Tape.
‘This was in part due to the stone tape theory which became popular in popular culture and paranormal research, and the influence of his mid career work on what has become known as the folk horror cannon in years since.
‘I’ve later discovered through working with his biographer Andy Murray that he’s considered the godfather of British genre television, and he has been celebrated as a screenwriters’ writer by influential screen icons such as Stan Lee!
‘His influence is phenomenal. Yet he remains this interesting behind the curtain figure outside of niche audiences. This was the first catalyst, to celebrate his screen influence.’
Zoe explained she spent time exploring more of Nigel’s work, including the Quatermass serials, which explore some really progressive concepts transgressing science fiction and folk narratives, the Year of the Sex Olympics which paints a dystopian world, the road which explores a haunting of the medieval world by a nuclear apocalypse in the present.
She then delved into the archive of Nigel’s writing at the Manx Museum, including his unpublished dystopian piece the Big Big Giggle which envisions a world later realised by Burges then Kubrick in A Clockwork Orange but with more wonderful humour.
‘What became really clear during this research was a very distinctive perspective in Nigel’s work,’ Zoe said.
‘Something, that after spending years studying national cinemas from across the globe I can appreciate as a decidedly Manx perspective.
‘Nigel also in his later years proclaims himself a Manxman and reflects on this unique regional voice in his work.
‘This was the second motivation behind the project: to attempt to explore this Manx influence on his screen work.
‘How this place which existed, even still in the early part of the last century, still suspended in a state of enchantment, quite apart from the outside world.’
Tickets for the first screening at Victory Cafe, near the Bungalow, sold out in three days. ‘It is wonderful that there is interest in Nigel’s work from this perspective and I hope for this to grow,’ Zoe said.
Zoe is now organising a second event, at The Black Dog Oven in her hometown of Peel, on Wednesday, April 10.
It will include pizza, the double bill screening of the Stone Tape and Out of Darkness: A Manx Visionary, and a question and answer session.
‘I would love to see anyone interested there,’ Zoe said.
Tickets (£29) are available at www.eventbrite.com
Zoe studied BA and Master’s degrees in film in Belfast.
Through Northern Ireland Screen she worked with BBC NI on an arts documentary about the Wiccan community and took part in Belfast Film Festival with her documentary work. Later she applied for funding and work with the British Film Institute’s Doc Society on a documentary about selective mutism.
Andy, a lecturer in film journalism at the University of Salford, is the author of the biography Into The Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale.