Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story
Well then, where to begin when looking at the life and work of Chris Sievey. A man of the most outrageous individuality, Sievey was an undisputed creative of many talents. Whether it is on stage, through his music, in front of or behind the camera, his drawings and his writing, the artistic prestige of this man cannot be undervalued. In a project spanning six decades and that has taken over five years to complete, Steve Sullivan now presents a film documenting all of the work and talents of the man before, during and after his years as his widely known alter ego Frank Sidebottom.
Through the combination of home footage and interviews with friends, loved ones and former band members, Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story presents an official biographical documentary about the papier-mâché-headed comedian/musician/performer/football-manager/whatever else he wanted to be – Frank Sidebottom – and more importantly, the life and imagination of the man behind the mask. With insight and narration from contributors who either influenced, or were influenced by, Sievey, the story that unravels is of a lust for fame where one personality rises to the pinnacle, only for the other to slip into a darker mass in which one ego consumes the other.
Safe to say, the humour that comes attached with Frank Sidebottom is unusual, a generational entity, and yet Sullivan presents an exciting feature-length documentary packed full of unscripted laughs, shenanigans and reminiscing to warm the heart. As the filmmaker explores deep inside the mind of the man and his authentic archived material, we feel as though we really are the ones sifting through notepads of comedic substance, listening to the cassettes of old songs and watching dusty old VHS recordings.
The pre- and post-Frank acts of the film actually prove to be the far more touching and engaging, exploring Sievey’s childhood liberalism and early family years before being engulfed in slapstick jokes and sugary puns, which after a while become almost grotesque and nonsensical. It comes as a relief to break beyond the deeper emotional boundaries as we reach the latter years of Chris Sievey’s life, and through appreciative direction, editing and cinematography this stage is handled with a lovely poignancy and respect.
If you are a fan of Frank, then this film is tailor-made for you. Those who are of younger ilk and unaware of who the large-headed character was can also consume this documentary with a joy and intrigue as we delve further inside the papier-mâché head. This will be the cult feature film about Frank that Chris would have really wanted, just make sure to go in with a very, very open mind.
Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story is released in select cinemas on 29th March 2019.
Watch the trailer for Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story here: