On 29th June 2012, after 15 years of silence, the Stone Roses returned to their hometown, Manchester, to play three days at Heaton Park, the first of their big reunion tour dates. So much was the excitement for the Britrock band’s comeback tour that “they sold out 220,000 tickets for three huge homecoming shows within 14 minutes.” As the band rocked out to sell –out crowds, there was one man on a mission to capture the resurrection of one of the greatest bands of the 80s and 90s. Director Shane Meadows set-up 35 cameras to capture this momentous event. This was a project of passion, this was: Made of Stone.
Fully financed by Film4 and 4DVD, the film continues Channel 4’s long-term collaboration with Meadows and Warp Films following Film4-backed titles This is England and Dead Man’s Shoes, and Channel 4 series This is England ’86 and ’88. Life-long Stone Roses fan Shane Meadows was granted unprecedented access to the Stone Roses for almost a year: from the palpable excitement at the press conference in October 2011, to the intimacy of private early rehearsal in a remote barn; from the secret comeback gig at Warrington Parr Hall, to the triumphant exhilaration of the Heaton Park homecoming – Meadows journeyed with the band to capture the intimate moments of a resurrection no one believed possible. Meadows captured every aspect of the Stone Roses revival, but as a fan he knew when to switch off the cameras and turn off the sound devices – specifically the well-publicised bust up on their Amsterdam leg of the tour. In a recent interview with Time Out Meadows stated that ‘so many films have done it [filmed bust-ups], it’s nice to hold something back for once…I don’t shift for shit, it’s not the gentlemanly thing to do.’
Farm producer, Portia Napier, managed the project, from the initial delivery of the media, to master delivery. Preparation for the finishing post production was crucial, because specific workflows had to be established to guarantee fluidity throughout the edit. How best to deal with archive footage, and the sheer amount of media was vital to discuss before any footage was delivered to The Farm. Mark Redfern was a key member of the process, managing the data as it arrived and making sure the workflow that was discussed was adhered to.
The Farm’s Senior Colourist Colin Peters, who worked with Meadows on This Is England ‘86 and This Is England ’88, graded the hotly anticipated documentary. The brief for Peters was to create a clean and natural grade to the film, utilising few shapes but exploiting to the full the Nucoda Film Master’s layering software. Furthermore, by keeping an honesty in the footage, it brought out the best of the material. A significant challenge for Peters was to create a unity between the several different cameras that were used during the shooting of Made of Stone. Meadows used an array of cameras throughout the year he spent with the Stone Roses, using kit that included; Canon 5D, Sony PMW500, Sony F3 and Red Epic to Panasonic handy cams, and GoPros. Peters also had the task of unifying archive footage with the range of different cameras used. The film was fairly archive heavy, but rather than cleanse the footage, the idea was to keep the authenticity of the material and not to scrub the material of its ‘age’, again keeping to a certain honesty that was intrinsic to the film.
Peters initially set a base grade, applying the first of many layers to the feature documentary. Peters and Meadows were able to return to each scene; each frame, refining the smallest detail. By building up layers of colour and contrast Peters was able to inject the film with a specific texture that enabled them to create a filmic layer. Applying this film curve allowed Peters to give a filmic depth to even the simplest of shots. Working in such an intricate way enabled him to create a fantastic continuity through the film, and this unity was highlighted through the transitional scenes, as even they were heavily layered to control the filmic curve. This attention to detail was specifically important during the Heaton Park sequence that incorporated more than 30 cameras. This sequence then had more than 800 cuts to it, meaning Peters and Meadows had to apply their eye to the smallest discrepancy, even if was just a dip in the blacks, to keep the required continuity.
Peters mentioned after the grade had been completed that one of the most rewarding and satisfying things in working with Meadows; that he’s a very technical director with a fantastic eye for detail. This enabled both colourist and director to bounce off each other during the grade, allowing for a truly cohesive partnership to form that reflects on the work that was produced.
The level and attention to detail, evident in the preparation for the finishing process and during the grade, was carried through to the online with Owen Hulme. Hulme points out that the recreation of split screens and rostrum were a meticulous process. Often working alongside Peters in the grade the two processes became unified. Many of the images were being sourced at their highest resolution for the first time during the online process and to keep these looking their best the raw files were used for the rostrum moves. Some incredible and rare images were uncovered by the archive footage. The production team, together with the director and editor, invested a great amount of time and effort to make sure the archive achieved its maximum potential alongside the music. With a director as dedicated and detailed as Meadows, every part of the online was used to add that extra quality to the film
Made of Stone will premiere on the 30th May at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse. The Stone Roses, director Shane Meadows, and producer Mark Herbert will all attend, and Meadows will conduct a Q&A session after the premier. Tickets to the premier were in such high demand that a decision was made to broadcast the film across 200 cinemas around the UK. On the 5th June 2013, Made of Stone will be released nationwide.