LES FILMS DE RICHARD WOOLLEY
French Thesis available for download
"VOIR AU DE LA DU CINÉMA - Les Films De Richard Woolley" is an accessible and informative Masters thesis by Céline Soulodre, formerly at the University of Rennes, and now available for download. CLICK HERE
This comprehensive study of Richard Woolley's complete film work in the 1970s & 80s (available on the BFI box-set UNFLINCHING EYE - new re mastered edition with subtitles & commentary tracks coming soon) offers new insights into the filmmaker's motivation, manner of working and key concerns in terms of form and content.
PLEASE NOTE: We are on the lookout for anybody with good French to English translator's skills - and a reasonable understanding of film theory and its sometimes specialist vocabulary - to translate this thesis into English. Interested parties can make contact through this website.
BREAD OF HEAVEN - Worldwide online & print campaign June/July 2018
Online press release, publicity campaign, and print promotion in London Review of Books gets book's sales moving
STRANGER LOVE - New edition available January 2018
Second edition with a redesigned cover can now be purchased online and in bookshops
STRANGER LOVE is a story of 17th Century exploration, misadventure and unusual romance mixing historical fact with well-researched fiction. The first edition sold well in both paper and digital versions. This edition has a new cover that, in the author's view, better reflects the historical context and carefully researched content of the book.
Click titles below to download or order by mail:
STRANGER LOVE Amazon UK)
STRANGER LOVE (Amazon Com)
STRANGER LOVE (Amazon Com Australia)
STRANGER LOVE (Fishpond NZ - hardcopy only)
STRANGER LOVE - September launch
Date set for publication of Tasman Maori novel in New Zealand
After several years of gestation and detailed research, and a year of concentrated writing and re-writing, Woolley's novel about the clash, in December 1642, between Maori and a Dutch East Indies Company expedition led by Abel Tasman is almost ready to appear. Launch date has been set as mid-September 2016 in New Zealand and is being handled by Raewyn Davies of 24/7 PR, Auckland. The story is spun around documented historical facts and seen through the eyes of two young participants on either side.
New book published
BREAD OF HEAVEN - a year in the life of a man trying to make babies and movies. Diary plus screenplay.
BREAD OF HEAVEN documents a year in the life of a thirty-something man trying to make babies and movies while still showing solidarity with the miners strike of 1984. A faction-style diary of daily life under a right wing Thatcher government in the age of left wing feminism, and a comedy feature film script about the miners' strike that emerges from this volatile mix.
Novel news for 2016
After a year of writing in 2015, two new books to be published over the coming months
STRANGER LOVE is Woolley's take on the clash between Maori and Abel Tasman's Dutch East Indies Company expedition to New Zealand/Aotearoa in December 1642. BREAD OF HEAVEN, now published, reworks the second half of an earlier book (BACK IN 1984) and combines it with Woolley's 1980s BFI commissioned script about the 1984/5 miners' strike. More news on a publication date for the former when it is known.
SEKABO - Stimulating session at Heart Cafe, Leeds
Richard reads from novel at invitation of Headingley Literature Festival.
SEKABO - Eastern Approaches
Article in books section of Sunday edition of Shanghai Daily helps fuel sales in China
A full page article in the Sunday edition of the Shanghai Daily has sparked Asian interest in Woolley's new novel SEKABO. Article is also available on line where it includes an additional live interview with the author.
SEKABO - China takes over part of northern England
How the Chinese and English press report the headline news on July 1 2047
By 2097 the North York Moors from Scarborough to Middlesbrough is a well established, egalitarian Special Administrative Region of China, and England (bereft of its Celtic fringe) a land of segregated rich and poor zones with the word British consigned to history and the memories of a faded empire. But there is still a Queen of England, and there is still be a Royal Family, and it is a secret from the past of that archaic institution that threatens to mar the brave new world of SEKABO.
New novel now available as e-book and hardback
SEKABO is now available to download and/or buy from here.
More to follow on the world of SEKABO shortly...
PRESS RELEASE SEPTEMBER 2014
Sekabo - Greed from the past confronts good from the future
A tale to engage hearts and minds, even those unwilling to be opened
This month film director, performer and writer Richard Woolley launched his novel Sekabo, a thriller located in an England of the not-too distant future (2097) and recent past (1990). In 2097, Sekabo, a Hong Kong style enclave encompassing Scarborough and the North York Moors, is an egalitarian, high-tech republic ruled by China as part of an English government debt repayment deal in 2047. Life there seems idyllic, until a secret linked to the Royal Family threatens to disrupt its settled world.
In 2097 the science of cryonics can bring people frozen in the 20th Century back to life. Samantha (Su-Yin), a new cryonics graduate, is commissioned by the English and Chinese governments to rehabilitate a young man, deep-frozen in 1990, who may have some answers to this royal rumour.
"Woolley’s cinematic and theatrical background brings this fast-paced action story to life with an imaginative – and, for once, not entirely pessimistic – exploration of the future."
SEKABO - Update
With its cover finalised Richard's new novel prepares for lift off.
With the cover image for the hardback edition of SEKABO now released and preparations for its launch well advanced, those wishing to receive a copy of the book and/or further news and information about the world of SEKABO can go to www.sekabo.com to register interest.
New novel to be published in late September 2014
Woolley's new novel SEKABO will now be published by Thames River Press in late September 2014.
Woolley's new novel SEKABO, a thriller set in England in the future (2097) and recent past (1990), will now be published by Thames River Press (London) in late September 2014 with an official launch at the Frankfurt Book Fair in early October.
An egalitarian republican enclave with a hi-tech infrastructure that allows everyone to live in prosperity, Sekabo is an idyllic city-state on England’s North Yorkshire coast ruled by China as part of a debt repayment deal. But can two secrets from 1990 that may compromise the English royal family past and present upset this settled world?
Sekaboan citizen Samantha Thwaites Su-yin, a recent Cryonics graduate, is given the task of rehabilitating a young man frozen in 1990, who is being resuscitated at the request of the English and Chinese governments. What dark information could he have taken to the freezer with him? And can future honesty defeat past deceit?
Fusing low key science fiction with contemporary drama, this novel tells an unusual story of intrigue, lust and love, well-leavened with laughter and tears. An original and accessible thriller, SEKABO is packed with fast-paced action and imaginative descriptions of future social, technological and psychological developments.
For more information please contact:
Tasman Maori book contract signing
October 2013 - book contract signed with Dutch film production company Fu Works.
More information about the content of this project can be found in earlier news items on this site. The novel, based on previous intensive research done in New Zealand in 2012, is to be written over the next year in consultation with leading Dutch producer San Fu Maltha of Fu Works, who hopes to make a full length film based on the book once it has been published.
Archival blog activated
New blog for homeless writing from yesteryear and occasional contemporary comment.
January 2012 saw the launch of Richard's Wordpress blog 'Now and then - Fact and Fiction'. This is mainly intended as an archive for written pieces that are not available elsewhere and that have, in many cases, been rescued from floppy disks, obsolete computers and out of date software such as Word Perfect. Most fragments have relevance to other work already in the public sphere, some may be of 'historical' interest.
To date, the following items have been posted under the decade in which they were written:
2000s - Letters to the South China Morning Post (2000-2003)
1990s - Column for Dutch film magazine Skrien (1997-1999)
1980s - Short story fragment - intended for, but not included in, novel Back in 1984
1970s - Young filmmaker arrives in divided Berlin - first 'factional' sketches for novel Friends & Enemies
The aim is to add archival material on a regular basis, as well as occasional contemporary comment.
Tasman/ Maori project - update
Originally planned as a docudrama for TVNZ, the project is now to be developed as a feature film.
It has now been agreed that developing this project as a feature film will allow greater freedom in imagining what might have happened on the Maori side and presenting the chief Maori protagonists, as well as Abel Tasman and his aides such as Isaac Gilsemans, in greater depth. There were concerns that speculating on undocumented possibilities would not suit the documentary approach, since many experts and historians prefer (understandably) to stick to known facts rather than dealing with the 'what ifs' of history.
Richard will concentrate on building his story around two main characters and their perspectives on the events of December 1642. As well as working further with a New Zealand producer, Richard is also scheduled to make approaches to Dutch film production companies on his next visit to the Netherlands.
The film is likely to be on a slow burner for a while as a new novel project takes precedence, but the aim is to keep it moving along in development terms and pick it up as a priority again towards the middle of 2013.
Novels now available in Kindle Format
Richard's novels are now available as e-books at a fraction of the print edition price.
The publisher of Richard's novels has recently made e-editions available. SAD-EYED LADY OF THE LOWLANDS has been selling particularly well in in this format.
To purchase a Kindle edition click here:
Richard's latest novel, due out sometime in 2013, will be available in both print and e-editions from date of publication.
Maori and Tasman docudrama
Successful research visit to the top of New Zealand's South Island completed November 5th–14th 2011.
A docudrama project about the often-overlooked, but pivotal encounter between Maori of the Ngati Tumatukokiri iwi and Dutch explorers on the 18th & 19th of December 1642 is taking shape apace...
A top New Zealand Production Company – Greenstone TV of Auckland, headed up by John Harris – is keen to come on board as producer and the project is currently being considered for financing as part of a call-for-ideas from TVNZ and NZ on Air.
Richard has also just completed a ten-day research visit for the project to the area around Nelson and Golden Bay at the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island. This is where Dutchman Abel Tasman and his ships, the Heemskerck and Zeehaen, dropped anchor off Taupo Point and Maori first sighted the strange and alien giant boats with billowing white sails and the even stranger white men aboard them. As well as visiting key locations connected to the encounter such as Takaka, Whariwharangi Beach and Onetahua (Farewell Spit), Richard also met key experts on this first recorded encounter between Europeans and Maori.
Amongst those he held discussions with were: Robert Jenkin, author of the fascinating and insightful book, Strangers in Mohua; Grahame Anderson, who wrote the beautifully presented and informative Merchant of the Zeehaen; and Hilary and John Mitchell, leading chroniclers of Maori history in the region and authors of the eye-opening and comprehensive Te Tau Ihu o te Waka. Keen local Tasman investigator, Penny Griffith, also took Richard on an instructive walkabout at Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit, locating places where Tasman first dropped anchor.
Richard is extremely grateful for the information and insights these meetings provided and hopes to be able to involve those concerned further as the project progresses. An earlier meeting in September with Professor Anne Salmond of Auckland University paved the way for this successful research trip.
Further reports will be posted on this site…
Watch this space!
AN UNFLINCHING EYE - Reviews in a Row
Boxset has been selling well, generating reviews on and off line with several of some depth and insight.
Alongside printed press pieces, there have been many and various online reviews for the box set ‘An Unflinching Eye’, all positive and informative. It has been refreshing and rewarding to see the films critiqued from the perspective of thirty years on, often in an intelligent and insightful manner. The Digital Fix review, in particular, is well worth a read for those wishing to get an introductory understanding of what Woolley was about as a filmmaker in the 70s and 80s.
Below a selection of links is provided for easy access:
BFI launches AN UNFLINCHING EYE DVD box set
Box set to be released on 28th March 2011. For full BFI press release click heading.
DVD press release
An Unflinching Eye
The films of Richard Woolley
Between 1970 and 1988 British filmmaker Richard Woolley created a body of exciting and challenging work, variously seen in cinemas, on television and in international film festivals, but almost impossible to see since. These seven films have been collected together and are released in a four-disc DVD box set by the BFI on 28 March.
Tackling controversial themes, such as class, race, sexuality and the human instinct for violence, Richard Woolley directed a number of radical and uncompromising films, which explore the ways we relate to, and ultimately destroy, one another even as we strive to develop the means to better understand and communicate with those around us.
This collection, detailed below, offers the long-overdue opportunity to experience first hand the power of such extraordinary and unique films as: 1976’s Illusive Crime, which caused outrage upon its release; Telling Tales, the much acclaimed soap-meets-Straub debut feature from 1978; 1981’s controversial and critically-acclaimed Brothers and Sisters, set against a backdrop of Yorkshire Ripper-style murders; and Woolley’s final film, Girl from the South (1988) which views black Britons through the prism of an interracial relationship.
Kniephofstrasse (1973, 35 mins): Complex but compelling formalist film, which investigates the relationship between sound and image
Drinnen und Draussen / Inside and Outside (1974, 40 mins): Experimental narrative film exploring conformity in East and West Germany
Illusive Crime (1976, 50 mins): Uncompromising, originally structured drama in which a violent sexual act is committed
Telling Tales (1978, 90 mins): Deft interweaving of stories, set against backdrop of failing marriage, provides platform for dissection of class and gender roles
Brothers and Sisters (1981, 96 mins): Radical politics meet alternative thriller in the story of a prostitute’s murder in a Yorkshire city
Waiting for Alan (1984, 45 mins): Unconventional, minutely observed domestic drama centred on ritualised boredom of a middle-class housewife
Girl from the South (1988, 84 mins): Young girl from rich family falls in love with unemployed black boy and tries to persuade him they are equals
New video interviews with Richard Woolley
Release date: 28 March 2011
RRP: £29.99 / cat. no. BFIV917 / Cert 15 / 4-disc box set
UK / 1973-1988 / colour, and black & white / 450 mins / English language /
4 x DVD 5 / original aspect ratios
Available from DVD retailers & BFI Filmstore Tel: 020 7815 1350 or www.bfi.org.uk/filmstore
Press contact: Jill Reading, BFI Press Office
Tel: (020) 7957 4759 or e-mail email@example.com
Click here to BUY THROUGH THIS SITE (Amazon price £17.99)
Click here to VIEW EXCERPTS FROM FILMS
BFI to distribute RW DVDs
British Film Institute signs up to distribute RW's films on DVD
Due to a delay in the certification process, the DVD box set collection of Richard’s films is now to be officially launched by the BFI at the end of March under a new title and in new packaging. Title and cover images for the new boxset will be posted on this website when available and will replace the currently advertised ‘Richard Woolley Collection’. Any outstanding requests for that collection will be passed on to the BFI by the Yorkshire Film Archive, which will remain holder of most of RW’s original archive material. The four DVDs in the newly titled and packaged boxset will be the same as indicated on this website for the ‘RW Collection’ and will be available for online purchase through Amazon, HMV etc from the end of March onwards.
Any queries please contact: Sam.Dunn@bfi.org.uk
Richard back in Yorkshire for book signing tour
Richard starts book signing tour at Leeds Waterstones - other venues include Sheffield, York and Bradford
Last Saturday (30th October), Richard began his Yorkshire book signing tour at Waterstones in Leeds with a successful session in the Albion Street store – despite competition later in the day from a superstar comedian with the initials MM!
Richard was kept company by local academic and political writer/commentator Max Farrar and received considerable interest for his novel Back in 1984, set in Yorkshire. Richard's other novels, Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands and Friends and Enemies, were also on sale and signed copies of all three books are now on the shelves of the Leeds store.
The tour will continue with a series of Saturday dates in Sheffield (6th November), York (13th November), Bradford (20th November), Huddersfield (27th November) and Harrogate (4th December). A feature article looking at Richard's work as both author and filmmaker is due to appear in the Yorkshire Post this Friday (5th November).
Issue of DVD box set on hold
DVD box set not yet available due to an unexpected production issue.
DVD box set preparation complete
A great deal of work went into tracking down and preparing Richard's films.
The process of collecting, collating, cataloguing, digitising and restoring Richard Woolley’s films has been a long one and taken more than two years to complete.
Whereas some films, such as Brothers and Sisters, were safely stored in the National Film Archive with negative, inter-negative, inter-positive and master soundtrack all in excellent condition, others such as Girl from the South and Waiting for Alan had all but disappeared. As the use of film has declined, so the number of laboratories dealing with and storing previously processed prints and negatives has decreased to a handful. This was the case with the laboratory in Leeds that originally processed, printed and negative-cut Girl from the South. Starting life as an independent operation in the Filmatic family, the lab was taken over by Ranks in the ’70s and then subsumed into the orbit of Yorkshire TV, which increasingly became its sole means of survival. When YTV stopped all but a few dramas on film, the need for a local laboratory disappeared and with the demise of YTV itself the lab was closed and its archive dispersed or – if an owner could not be found for remaining material – destroyed. As was the case with the negative of Girl from the South and, had there not been two prints discovered in dusty cupboards (one belonging to a film festival in Finland), the film might have become just a memory. Waiting for Alan was a similar case, though this time – after much searching – the laboratory in London found the negative in an attic above its reception office and Channel Four returned a further print in good condition to the National Film Archive.
Early experimental films such as Drinnen und Draussen and Illusive Crime were slowly decomposing in rusting film cans in collectors' cellars or catalogued as phantom entries with organisations like the London Filmmakers Co-op or Concorde Films (the former distribution arm of the Arts Council). But with the TLC and expertise of workers at the Yorkshire Film Archive all the early work (including Richard’s student films not included on the DVDs) has been rescued, decontaminated, resuscitated, cleaned and put out to pasture in the climate controlled paradise of YFA’s HQ at York St John University.
And since then, one by one, they have been taken out of storage and sent down to the digital magicians at Primefocus in London. First to be digitised and then, once in digital format, to have their scrapes and scratches, blotches and blobs and other unsightly blemishes removed – sometimes singly, sometimes on the run. In one case, the Berlin-based film Kniephofstrasse, some of the scratching remains because it was felt to be part and parcel of a work which is experimental in nature and very much concerned with the act of viewing celluloid. Other films, such as Telling Tales – whose negative had also disappeared – were carefully restored from existing prints with particular attention being paid to the colour sections. Sometimes decisions on what to restore and what to leave raw were difficult as ‘restoring’ in the digital age can also mean changing out of all recognition in relation to the original. Re-framing, re-colouring, re-focusing – anything is possible as anyone who has watched a ‘colorized’ Hollywood classic will know.
It is hoped that what has been done with and to Richard’s films in this DVD box set will provide viewers with an authentic, but aesthetically and technically acceptable experience. Certainly the films have been brought back to life from a point close to death and once more made accessible to those who wish to view them.
Screenwriting Conference at Copenhagen
Conference impresses with depth of debate. http://screenwriting.mef.ku.dk - screenplay right here!
EXT. FERRY DOCK, RODBY, DENMARK – DAY
Wind HOWLS. Sea slaps at flat sandy coast.
Sound of VOMITING.
Bow of ship opens jaw-like. Deutsche Bundesbahn ICE train is spewed out on to desolate dock.
Inter-title: “World's top academics head for screenwriting conference”
EXT. COPENHAGEN STATION – NIGHT
YELLS and SCREAMS from Tivoli Gardens deafen the ears.
PROFESSOR-IN-CAP emerges from station with case in tow. He is bag-eyed and green at the gills, but hails a taxi.
Inter-title: “Someone should have taken a plane!”
INT. DINING ROOM HOTEL OPERA – DAY
PROFESSOR-IN-CAP enters, pours juice and sips.
He sits at table and is surrounded by others including the suave DOCTOR M, who shakes his hand, claps him on back and points at mound of food on offer.
PROFESSOR-IN-CAP declines. Others fill mouths and talk – crumbs spray in all directions.
Inter-title: “Old friends meet and air new theories at first breakfast.”
EXT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS – DAY
Rain-soaked concrete buildings stand in serried rows.
ACADEMICS, including PROFESSOR-IN-CAP enter door in foreground. Re-emerge further down. Enter second door. Re-emerge. Take out phones. Enter again. Re-emerge. Enter. CHEERS echo in distance.
Inter-title: “Finding one’s way in a new field is not easy.”
INT. LECTURE THEATRE – DAY
Rows of faces in steeply raked chairs stare down at young, black-clad SYDNEY ACADEMIC.
Heads nod, mouths grimace and smile. Eyes close and open. Fingers scribble or tap. Whispers HISS, knuckles CRACK.
Back-view of SYDNEY ACADEMIC sways, gesticulates and occasionally sips from bottle of water.
Window blinds mysteriously ascend and descend, alternately casting light and dark over proceedings.
Audience applauds, DOCTOR M smiles in avuncular manner. A LONE GREY-HAIRED FIGURE smirks - it is clear there is more to this man than meets the eye.
Inter-title: “What ARE we researching? THAT is the question!”
INT. UNIVERSITY CANTEEN – DAY
CHATTER merges with CLATTER of cutlery and plates. PROFESSOR-IN-CAP, now recovered, eats heartily, nods, waves and smiles. Merriment and munching.
Inter-title: “A real smorgasbord of opinions, gossip and food – who cares what we are researching!”
EXT. HOTEL OPERA – NIGHT
Window lights extinguish, church bells toll midnight, sound of SNORING. One light remains as GREY HAIRED FIGURE stares into dark night.
Inter-title: “Well-earned rest for all at end of day one!”
INT. LECTURE THEATRE – DAY
CHAIRWOMAN in Danish casuals leads on TEXAN PROFESSOR in smart American dress. TEXAN PROFESSOR clears throat. AUDIENCE settles back to listen.
Blinds ascend and descend as before. DOCTOR M nods approvingly. CHAIRWOMAN takes notes. SYDNEY ACADEMIC sighs. GREY-HAIRED FIGURE bides his time.
Inter-title: “Relief all round: the script is alive, well and living in LA – looking much as it did aged twenty!”
EXT. WATERFRONT RESTAURANT – NIGHT
LAUGHTER and CLINK OF GLASSES echo over harbour. Boats with high masts bob up and down, deck lights blinking in the dark.
Inter-title: “Act 2 ends on positive note. Conference dinner!”
EXT. COPENHAGEN HARBOUR – MORNING
Mist and rain cover grey Baltic water. Gulls SCREAM, sirens WAIL. The GREY-HAIRED FIGURE in day-glo orange waterproof stands alone on a bridge.
Inter-title: “‘To be or not to be’ – better ‘NOT’ on a day like this!”
INT. LECTURE THEATRE – DAY
GREY-HAIRED FIGURE, now in dapper jacket and pants, stands at rostrum, his face long and straight as a military crease, his voice so deep only a menacing RUMBLE is heard – Ellsinore's thunder heralding the ghost of Hamlet’s father.
Blinds close and do not reopen. Lights flash on and off like lightening despite best efforts of a TECHNICIAN
The steeply raked AUDIENCE is buttoned down and tight-lipped.
PROFESSOR-IN-CAP is close to tears and even DOCTOR M has lost his expression of avuncular benevolence. SYDNEY seeks solace in a colleague's book.
Wind HOWLS at the windows. The LONE GREY-HAIRED FIGURE’S fingers curl and his lips move in silent close-up.
Inter-title: “‘I do mist, melancholy, doom and gloom – so Copenhagen suits me fine. And remember: though most may never fully come to life, scripts NEVER die. They exist forever in a twilight zone between writer’s mind and movie screen. Banshees of the creative world, zombies on development death row – outcasts awaiting resurrection from the dead. By YOU!’”
FADE TO BLACK:
DVD's on the way
DVD set of Woolley’s films being prepared in cooperation with the Yorkshire and National Film Archives.
A DVD set of Woolley’s films is currently being prepared in cooperation with the Yorkshire Film Archive and the British Film Institute/ National Film Archive. The films will be available for purchase from the Yorkshire Film Archive in September 2010 – either as a box set of four DVDs or individually. Excerpts from these films can be viewed on this site on the Films page. Orders may be be placed now.
Woolley is currently developing a new script idea about Abel Tasman and the Maoris.
Woolley is currently working on a new novel as well as continuing research and development of his script ‘Old & New’ about Abel Tasman and the Maoris.