I remember watching this before when first sent it and with the passing of Andrew Weatherall these things all take on a new meaning. Michael Smith made this film about his home town. Nina Walsh and Andrew Weatherall provided the soundtrack. It’s a lovely thing. We think you may enjoy it. Over to Michael to introduce his film for you before (we hope) you sit back and let it roll away in front of you.


Stranger On The Shore

Walking along the seafront this morning, the sun shimmering on a brilliant blue sea, which was finally starting to look more Balearic than Baltic, I remembered why we moved down to this enchanted little corner of the South Coast … when the sun’s shining down by the beach, St Leonards feels like some kind of shabby paradise, this little boho enclave in the kingdom of Hastings, “a drinking town with a fishing problem” that has long attracted artists and eccentrics, and whose patron saint is Aleister Crowley, who ended his days performing sun worshipping rituals in a crumbling gothic pile called Netherwood.

The Great Beast 666 is not the only magician in this film - the soundtrack was provided by Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh … when I would visit them in the studio, they seemed to conjure their beautiful and often otherworldly music out of thin air as if by magic, through the veils of incense (and other things) constantly burning at the Woodleigh Research Facility, and I would sit there amazed, like a sorcerers’ apprentice.

I made this film when we moved to St Leonards six years ago and it’s funny to see how it’s changed in that time. Not as ramshackle, more Farrow & Balled. The alchies and druggies and vagrants are disappearing along with their dilapidated bedsits, which have been done up and sold as expensive flats to the wave of Londoners fleeing the capital, and the pound shops and boarded up windows are increasingly peppered with places selling craft beer and natural wine. It’s still at an early stage in this development, and the place still retains its raggy magic, but I hope it doesn’t lose it - like I said, when the sun’s shining on the beach, St Leonards feels like some kind of shabby paradise.

Michael Smith, St Leonards on Sea