Director, Simon Hilton, on making ‘Supergrass
is Ten’ and ‘A
The initial brief was to create a DVD containing all the
Then maybe add a few little extras... the best of the footage
the fans had not yet seen.
We had quite a lot of footage to sift through, so in December
1993 I went to stay with the band, hiring a cottage next to
the converted barn in which they were busy writing. I built
an Avid edit suite there, so that we could watch footage and
choose the 'best bits' together.
When a LORRY turned up with HUGE boxes of tapes from the archive
at Abbey Road, the cottage suddenly seemed very small…
and this was just the music video footage!
The band had filmed quite a few bits and pieces on the road
themselves, and they said they'd bring those tapes in...
“There were one or two TV performances that the management
….four HUGE packing crates arrived, full of VHSs!
The directors, Dom & Nic, who directed most of the band’s
brilliant videos, said they had a bit of Super 8 in a shoebox
somewhere that they had shot in 1995 & 1996 but never
We sent this off to the US and got it all transferred - it
ended up being about 10 HOURS WORTH of beautiful footage.
Then we spoke to their tour manger, Mark Dempsey, who’d
been with the band since they started in 1994.
Mark said he had a few tapes with some bits and pieces on
Mark turned up a couple of days later with about 60 (sixty!)
one hour DVC tapes, which covered the era 1997 to the present
Added to which, we got hold of EVERY SINGLE live and festival
performance from EVERY broadcaster around the world.
Not just BBC and Channel 4, but Canal+ Canada, NBC USA, Red
Ronnie in Italy…
The list goes on….
Anyway, by the end of the month (and several cases of red
wine), we had only got through half of the material.
It became increasingly apparent that if we were to shoot some
additional interviews (to be combined with the huge wealth
of footage which was opening up in front of us) we would be
have an entertaining and enlightening documentary. This would
be far more engaging and representative of the band as musicians,
video pioneers and characters than a bunch of select performances
bunged on a disc as a series of extras.
We made a habit of all sitting down for dinner together every
night, and on several nights I would quiz the band, surrupticiously
recording the conversations on minidisk.
The stories got more and more hysterical as the wine started
flowing, and soon we started to form pretty a clear vision
of how the DVD as a whole should turn out, as well as creating
a rough arc for a documentary.
Working out a ten year biography was starting to get a little
Few of the videotapes had been labelled or dated, and for
the band to remember what they were doing last week, let alone
8 years ago was fairly tricky.
Thankfully, the Management gave us copies of the bands schedules
from 1994 to the present day, and Mark, their tour manager,
furnished us with his meticulous tour itineraries - where
they played, stayed, on all the dates - even down to what
the setlists were for each and every gig!
From this we created our own spreadsheet and database of every
single day from January 1st 1994 to the present day.
We looked at the dates on tape boxes, or the dates hidden
in the DVC footage’s index codes, and cross referenced
every tape to the spreadsheet.
If we couldn’t get any of those clues, we looked at
the content - so, for example if there was Glastonbury footage
we knew it could be from 1 of 5 separate Glastonbury performances.
We cross referenced our spreadsheet to all the content that
was now in the Avid, sorted it by date, and Eureka! We had
a 10 year history of Supergrass.
A history of Supergrass that was over 400 hours long…
By the end of December, the band had finished writing, so
we moved the whole operation up to London, at which point
James, my producer, locked us all up in an edit suite and
threw away the key.
We built up sequences of what we felt to be the most exciting
phases of their career, and we based all our decisions on
The only problem with that, was that the boys are so entertaining,
virtually every minute of footage had something GREAT going
on in it.
In January, Supergrass were recording down at Sawmills Studios
This was the place where they recorded their first ever demos,
and most of their albums, so it has a lot of history with
Over a weekend, we went down to do interviews with them in
When they’re interviewed together, they all tend to
muck around and talk all over the top of each other, so I
interviewed them individually in order to get a bit more sense
out of them.
Usually Danny the drummer would be hanging around somewhere
to keep everything jollying along and take the piss when needed.
I had made a series of rough edits for each section of the
I would show them a section, and ask questions about it.
It was MAGIC.
As the memories came flooding back, the responses from the
guys in the interview were fantastic, spontaneous and sparkling.
We then took all the interview footage into the edit suite,
and spent up until March 2004 weaving the story into the wonderful
documentary it is now.
I have never worked or laughed so hard, enjoyed better company,
or felt so delighted with the final product.
I think their autobiography is truly unique.
I sincerely hope the fans enjoy it as much as we did making
Dir/Ed: Simon Hilton
Prod: James Chads
DP: Andrew Catlin
Cam: dom&nic, Mark Dempsey, Supergrass etc
A Maguffin production
DVD Auth/Design: Abbey Road Interactive
Rec Co: Parlophone
Mgmt: Courtyard: Chris Hufford/Julie Calland
Comms: Keith Wozencroft/Miles Leonard/Stefan Demetriou/Katherine
Parrott - Parlophone
©MMIV Parlophone Records Ltd
Supergrass Is Ten DVD