High On Hope - Feature length documentary

I have made a documentary about the early days of acid house, more specifically the Blackburn warehouse parties of 1989 - 91. I wanted to make a film that summed up the spirit and ethos of acid house and i thought, through the prism of my own experience, that these parties were the best vehicle to tell the story.

This film has been 10 years in the making. When i started i didn't have a clue. Mid way through i got in to film school and learned how to do things 'properly'. I tried to get traditional funding but when this failed to happen i thought, to take a line form the film, 'fuck it lets do it ourselves'. I borrowed £20k and found a team of creative people who would work for minimum money up front. The film was truly a collaborative effort and all the contributors are professionals who work in the industry so the final documentary is immensely watchable and rather like the parties themselves, what it lacks in gloss it makes up in energy.

The film is now ready to release but it has 16 music tracks in and there is a cost to clearing these. Also it needs some money for a website and marketing. Unfortunately i am now maxed out of cash, credit and favours.

I need to find a inventive solution to get my film to its audience, either that or a sponsor to come and save the day. The original contributors are now stake holders in the film and the original benefactor will need re reimbursing. I have not paid myself a penny and have given the last 18 months to this project almost exclusivity. But then my motivation rather like the protagonist of the film, Tommy, was never about the money it was, in his words, "about making it fucking happen!"

Any thoughts and ideas greatly appreciated.


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Comment by Tracie Storey on June 20, 2010 at 10:45
Loving the Track List...one small suggestion - how about Shades of Rhythm 'Sweet Sensation' - need I say more! A HUGE classic.....
Comment by Chris Thompson on May 5, 2010 at 13:29
Track List - Clearance TBC:

808 State ‘Pacific State’
Candy Flip ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’
Age Of Love ‘Age Of Love‘
Together ‘Hardcore Uproar’
Mr Fingers ‘Can You Feel It?’
Wood Allen ‘Airport 89’
808 State ‘Cubic’
Tricky Disco ‘Tricky Disco’
KLF ‘Its Grim Up North‘
A Guy Called Gerald ‘Voodoo Ray’
Sweet Exorcist ‘Testone’
Orbital ‘Chimes’
KLF ‘Last Train To Trancentral’
Comment by Piers Sanderson on April 26, 2010 at 15:31
At the launch of this book they showed the short version of HOH i made in 2003
Comment by Chris Thompson on April 26, 2010 at 9:39
Comment by DJ bongo on April 17, 2010 at 13:23
Maybe a way to cut the cost of the music publishing rights would be to re-evaluate the tracks that you use in the film. If you are gonna package a CD for a market that has already been over saturated with "The Big Tunes" who would be your target audience be? This could be a factor to do with why Defected and MOS are not snapping your hand off. Surely the best way to go would be to keep some of the pinnacle tracks of the time like the "Hardcore Uproar" that have a total historical reason to be in the film. Then you support that body off work with tracks that time has forgotten. Who relay wants to buy an album of music that you all ready have on different compilations. Trust me there is plenty of tracks that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg and would do the job better. Yes it would mean you would have to re-edit, but all roads that one has to travel are worth it. It's about arriving at ones destination.
If i could get a look at the film, i would gladly suggest some fitting tunes.
Comment by Chris Thompson on April 16, 2010 at 9:34
It's a pleasure Piers. Will post details on HOH Workgroup...
Comment by Piers Sanderson on April 15, 2010 at 16:25
Thank you both for some great ideas. Once i hear back about the music clearance quote i will have a better idea of the costs involved in moving to the next stage. Unfortunatley before i can do any screenings this needs to be done.
Mike can you make an introduction for me at Eagle or shall i just go in cold? I am already in talks with both Defected and MOS and whilst they are not snapping my hand off to take the film they are still helping me with this towards finding funding and an audience.
Any endorsements you can get are very welcome. I could nip over and do some quick filming with them for the website and dvd extras. Already on the case with Sasha but all others would be good too.
Chris if you could set up that FB capture that would be great. Just let me know what need to do. Lets keep chatting about the link up we can do with Hardcore Uproar and you getting involved with the marketing of the 'whole package'.
Thank you fellas for your input and interest. Most appreciated.
Comment by Mike Gillespie on April 14, 2010 at 17:43
Howdy -
Saw Chris today and we had a chat and here's an initial brain dump from me....

My sense is that the order of things should be:

Film Festivals
- Show at key festivals ASAP. Great way to build some interest and hype.

- Possibly some funky marketing oriented screenings around the country. Chris mentioned the idea of screening at some of the sites in the film which I think's a great idea. I suggested extending the idea to maybe do some drive-in type screenings in some of the green field sites those good ol' raves took place on. What about things like Glasonbury, The Glade, Big Chill, Bestival, Electric Picnic, Latitude even? Most of them have cinemas these days I think - even a late night screening on one of the main stages? Something...these "events" are not only a great way of getting people in front of the film (potential consumers and the media types) but also potentially a great source of additional material (interviews / sound bites etc.) for blogs, you tube, dvd extras - and kinda ties in with the user generated content idea Chris mentioned.

Social Media / Networking
- During that period I think you have an opportunity to do lots in the social media / social networking world and start to build up awareness and extend that to press (hopefully with stories of film festival successes!).

- How about a map of the UK that plots the key sites and that people can link their UGC to? Place and Time. Perhaps people can create locations? Forests, quarries (my speciality!), warehouses, fields.....A warehouse I put a party on in Newcastle once is now a Malmaison Hotel - what's become of the people and the places?

- Off that back of all that, I think you'd be in good shape to go out for broadcast, dvd and other ancillary product deals. On that you might want to consider:

EAGLE VISION: excellent global a/v distribution company who do very well with both TV sales and DVD/BR sales and are very much a music company. Eagle or not, I think someone who can deliver a track record in DVD sales, linked up with hard product sales could be a valuable piece in the puzzle.

MINISTRY OF SOUND / DEFECTED / OTHER SIMILAR: a really good, experienced, successful compilation specialist who have a connection with the subject matter could be a good way to get a compilation off the ground. I would think you'd want to try and do a book at the same time and the special edition box set is the Book, DVD and compilation (and glow stick, white glove, poppers, small white tablet.....!).

You may need to make deals with people for:

TV/DVD/BlueRay sales
E-commerce for D2C (have a feeling that's covered!)

When making the individual deals, the key is to make sure you can access the individual products in a way that allows you to construct bundles and box sets that you then sell direct from your own D2C site.

Endorsements (for want of a better word)
- It would be great if you could attach some names to this I would think. I LOVE the user generated content ideas and the idea of building a social network around the project and I think that having some names from that time, or that were inspired by or grew out of that time, or that just have a connection / interest in the scene. I can explore Underworld angles. I can also talk to The Orb (who I also manage and were very much a part of that period), and possibly (no promises) Darren Emerson, Sasha (not sure he's right?), Steve Hall (Junior Boys Own - and was running raves 88/89/90 in the south), possibly Andy Weatherall, the Orbital boys, maybe the Prodigy....will keep thinking. Many of these people are going to be out doing the key festivals this summer so having an excuse to be at the festivals showing the film may be a way to get in front of some of these people? I would think, what you want are little sound bites, rather than expansive interviews? Things that can form part of the fabric of your social media network and also extras on the DVD?

- People from the Police, National Grid, PA companies, van hire companies - I like the idea of hearing what people on the outside looking in have to say. It's always struck me that it's people like my sister, who were such a long long way from the "scene" that have the interesting / amusing stories. People who actually remember stuff ;-)

Business Model
- I'm with Chris for what it's worth. I'd suggest you establish a holding company for the IP and all the ancillary rights. That company licenses products to 3rd parties and is owned by the key stakeholders and participants. Or it's owned by you, and has a profit share agreement with stakeholders / participants etc. I'd be inclined to keep it very simple.

Right. I'm off to look for the VHS tape that's in my loft somewhere that contains footage of yours truly trying to wire up a sound-system in the middle of a forest in the pouring rain and in no state to be doing anything that involves electricity and water......
Comment by alix pennycuick on April 14, 2010 at 14:34
Mr P. Im back in casa london tomorrow, will skype early am.. Mr A
Comment by Chris Thompson on April 13, 2010 at 23:19
Here's an initial brain dump:

Buzz Marketing

I think I can help build an email base alongside Facebook group activity. If we can capture and ‘own’ the relationship with fans we are in control of the marketing rather then reliant on third parties, so I’d advocate migrating away from Facebook to our own online community destination, though this needs to be managed carefully and fans need an incentive.

Basic data capture: I can organise a data capture application on Facebook. The would be a form embedded in Facebook profile and fan pages. (eg: http://www.facebook.com/theblackboxrevelation?ref=ts - see lefthand panel + main navigation. A free download (track, vid [ideas?]) can be offered to fans as an incentive. See also http://www.digitalanimal.com/data_capture.shtml

Advanced Data Capture and User Generated Content: We can skin and tailor a Ning network to drive fans to. We can structure the narrative of this with key questions (what were the ones you suggested?) and the incentive to take part in the project by submitting content, focusing on images. This could also serve as a channel for direct sales down the line.


I think we can build a deluxe bundled product: DVD, Compilation Album Release and Book.

DVD: feature DVD with ‘extras’: outtakes, additional commentary/interviews (if the DVD is made available separately we can add a code that will launch additional online content/network access when the DVD is inserted in a computer).

Compilation Album: audio CD of film soundtrack (released in parallel as album download) (if the CD is made available separately we can add a code that will launch additional online content/network access when the CD is inserted in a computer)

Book: deluxe A4 landscape book of images donated via the online network also featuring editorial form key contributors. CD and DVD inserted in sleeve inlay. All HOH network members can be credited directly in the book. Note books are VAT exempt, big + for all parties.

Product Marketing & Distribution

I would source distribution for the deluxe product and music elements though existing contacts to run (subject to contact) in parallel with DVD only distribution partners Quark Films ; Cinetic (these the right links?)

Preferred partners would be PIAS (EU); INgrooves (ROW). Both are existing relationships and will provide significant marketing clout in the form of home page placement with key online and traditional retailers.

I think I would partner with a compilation label for the physical music product. I’ve work closely with http://www.unionsquaremusic.co.uk/ who are experts in this area and can help with the licensing, they also have the ZTT/808 State catalogue though I’d need to check what rights: http://www.unionsquaremusic.dloadshop.com/ZTT

Direct to fan: I would set up direct sales via the HOH network and virally. This would enable us to take pre-orders in advance of release and indeed manufacture. Aggregate pre-orders would build to album chart entry on release week. Additionally pre-orders can fund manufacture. We could engage key HOH network members to market virally equipping them with the tools and an additional incentive to do so. See http://www.digitalanimal.com/fandist.shtml

Additional Promotion

I have various ad agency leads and magazine publisher leads. A cover mount deal may be possible brining in finance.

I have a link with Underworld who may be interested in a HOH remix project and some co-promotion. Will float with Mike Gilespie who manages them and is a WoTI member.

May be worth considering some concentrated specialist plugging but I would hope to achieve this by default/FOC.

I set up an HOH twitter (do you have one?) as it's easy to syndicate updates to other social networks via twitter.


Some of this I can do for free: Ning/online promo, distribution deals.

Some will cost: Direct to fan retail set up/manufacture. I would try and get this funded by a record label/brand partner.

If we move forward I’d put together a full p&l model.

Business Model

Overall I guess I’m offering a kind of management deal. I want to be involved and I want to make it happen... Rather than being Mr 20% I’d propose a model where all stakeholders (maybe even HOH network members) are paid an agreed % after all costs have been recouped and all suppliers paid. If this sounds comfortable I can set up a private workspace on here and we can work it through.


I set up Who'd of Thought It in 2010, as a blog and place to share and develop ideas. 

It evolved into a small community and forum to post thoughts and canvass feedback, with me entertaining the notion of perhaps collaborating on and publishing some of the content to a wider audience. After gathering some initial traction (there are some novel concepts in the archive) other ventures took precedence.

'WoTI' now serves as a occasional pleasure, scrapbook of ideas and guest posts from those who dare. But never say never!

Enjoy. Chris Thompson

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