All that jazz on a shoestring: Benjamin Smith talks to a young film maker who, with only a 5,500 pounds grant, managed to produce an eye- and ear-catching documentary

NOBODY told Neil Rawles that half-hour television documentaries usually cost between pounds 30,000 and pounds 50,000 to make. It is probably just as well - if he had known, he may not have tried it with a pounds 5,500 grant from his regional arts board. 'It seemed like a lot of money at the time,' he chuckles. 'I thought, 'Blimey, I could have a cruise on this and make a film]' ' He may laugh at his navety now, but the finished programme - about the influence of jazz greats on contemporary musicians - stands as proof that with resourcefulness and determination it can be done on a shoestring.

'When Eastern Arts gave the the grant, they said: 'There's no way you're going to make this with pounds 5,500,' but I wasn't thinking too far ahead,' says Mr Rawles, a 23-year-old video production graduate from Essex whose only previous film-making experience was as a student in Bournemouth. Twelve months of sporadic filming and pounds 6,000 later, the documentary, Here and Now - Sampled, is finally finished.

'It's about the way young British artists have taken on board black American ideas and translated them into something new, either through sampling or through listening to records and re-creating those Sixties and Seventies sounds,' he says.

The idea was born at a Jazz FM festival where young, up-and- coming bands such as Galliano, the Brand New Heavies and Working Week appeared alongside some of their idols - legendary names such as Roy Ayers and Pharoah Sanders. 'It was very much a coming together of the generations,' Mr Rawles says. 'I saw an opportunity to show the influence of musicians whom the majority of young people aren't even aware of.'

He was pleasantly surprised by the co-operation he received, both from artists and venues. 'I'd either just turn up at the gigs unannounced or contact the management and explain loosely what I was doing. There was almost always willingness to let me come along and film and everyone was very receptive to the programme,' he says.

Mr Rawles made good use of the experience he had gained while experimenting with music videos at college to capture the energy of the jazz clubs, where most of the footage was shot on Super 8 cine film. The result is dramatic - grainy, fast-moving images are coupled with frantic, choppy editing and multitrack sound techniques to give a fresh, vibrant quality that looks set to become a Rawles trademark.

'I think it's important to present jazz to young people in a way that shows it's still an exciting, youthful, relevant music rather than something that belongs in a museum,' he says. 'I tried to reflect that energy in the editing and had in mind the photographic styles of the famous Blue Note and Impulse record sleeves, which are visually very strong and stylised.

'With cine film you get a slightly unreal quality you don't with video, which helps to create the right feel.'

The same approach was used to good effect in Sweet Revolutions (described by Mr Rawles as a 'music video documentary'), a four-minute graduation project about the Essex jazz-dance scene that won third prize at the 1990 Piccadilly Film Festival in London. 'It was a buzz because I felt it was very unpolished. It was made for pounds 150 and was in competition with British Film Institute productions costing pounds 10,000 or pounds 15,000.'

However, at a time of unprecedented belt-tightening, this modest success did not help Mr Rawles find a job in the industry. He spent the year it took to make Here and Now - Sampled on an Enterprise Allowance scheme. Now he works three days a week as a projectionist at his local multiplex cinema in West Thurrock. 'At least I'm working with film,' he jokes.

But his determination seems to have paid off. Anglia Television is showing a five-minute version of the film as part of First Take, a series of seven half-hour programmes showcasing new talent that starts on 30 October. The series producer, Sally-Anne Lomas, was attracted to Mr Rawles's programme because 'he takes risks with the editing and his use of music and his unique director's style is so distinctive you can look at his other work and say, 'that's Neil Rawles'. As soon as I saw the programme, it made me want to go to those clubs,' she says.

The British Council has entered the programme in a documentary film festival in Rome and there is interest from MTV and Channel 4, although, unsurprisingly, there is no money available at the moment. In the meantime, Mr Rawles is navigating the commissioning 'minefield', anticipating 'more boredom and closed doors' before his big opportunity arises. Until then he will make the programmes anyway and worry about selling them afterwards. Is that wise, considering the degree of uncertainty involved? 'Probably not,' he says, 'but what choice do I have? It's what I want to do.'

(Photograph omitted)

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home