Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema returns at Good Shepherd Studios

Good Shepherd Studios Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema
photo by Jake Green

Great night on Wednesday as Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema returned with a screening of What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? at the wonderful Good Shepherd Studios. Paul Kelly’s brilliant film was in the first programme that I put together for a film night at the Leytonstone Festival in 2007 at the Heathcote Arms alongside shorts by Ian Bourn and John Smith. This led to the launch of Leytonstone Film Club in 2008 (name changed to Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema). Wednesday’s screening was the first of a regular programme of films at Good Shepherd Studios.

What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema, Good Shepherd Studios
photo by Jake Green

It was a reminder of just how important a film Mervyn Day actually is. Shot in the Lower Lea Valley around Stratford, Bow, Hackney Wick and Canning Town in the summer of 2005, and set on the day the successful bid for the London Olympics was made, it captures a crucial moment in time in the history of London. I attended a screening at the Barbican when we first moved to Leytonstone in 2006 and wrote about the landscape of the film when I went in search of locations.

Paul Kelly and John Rogers, Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema, Good Shepherd Studios 12th April 2023. Photo by Jake Green
photo by Jake Green
photo by Timothy Fox

In the Q&A with Director Paul Kelly, we discussed his collaboration with the pop band St Etienne on this and other films and how they came to make a film about a part of London where few people outside the area ventured. I also asked Paul what the narrative of the film would have been had the Olympic bid been unsuccessful. That’s an interesting alternative history of London.

Paul Kelly and John Rogers - photo by Jake Green. Good Shepherd Studios Leytonstone 12th April 2023
Paul Kelly and John Rogers – photo by Jake Green

After a break of a few months, it was great to be back with Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema. Thanks so much to Jake Green for giving us a new home at Good Shepherd and it was wonderful to see Stow Film Lounge running the projection. Also thanks to Jake for these fantastic photos.

What this space for the date of our next screening in May.

The American Friend – Wim Wenders (1977)

The American Friend Wim Wenders

Recently renewing my Mubi subscription, I’m trying to watch more films rather than clicking between YouTube videos. Wim Wenders’ The American Friend was the first film of this new era of attention expansion. It’s a great film and I couldn’t help but grab my phone to capture the incredible art direction. The colours, the use of the picture frames, the sky, the beach and the orange VW Beetle, Dennis Hopper, Bruno Gantz, and Lisa Kreuzer, the Hamburg Docks. Perfection.

The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders
The American Friend Wim Wenders

Interview with filmmaker Cathy Rogers

It was a massive pleasure to interview my sister, artist filmmaker Cathy Rogers about her practice using Super 8 film. Cathy has developed a fascinating practice over a number of years through studies at Chelsea College of Art, University for the Creative Arts, and the Royal College of Art. In the process being taught by some of the U.K’s leading experimental filmmakers and theorists including Andrew Kötting, Nicky Hamlyn, and A.L. Rees.
I took the opportunity of Cathy’s recent move to a new studio and screening space in Ramsgate to talk to her via Instagram Live about how she works with Super 8 film, including using natural processing agents, and making camera-less films. She also showed us some of her collection of analogue film equipment, dark room, and preview of a new work-in-progress film which she screened in the studio and screeening space.

You can find out more about Cathy’s work here

Patrick Keiller interview: London the book

Patrick Keiller London book

Patrick Keiller’s film London was released in 1994 and made an instant impact among viewers and critics alike, becoming enormously influential over the years. Filmed in 1992 and composed of 356 moving images of scenes around the city shot on 35mm film, it has now been published in book form with over two hundred high-definition digital scans of the original frames along with ‘the narration, an afterword, and a list of camera subjects and endnotes.’

This publication by FUEL, gave me a wonderful opportunity to ask Patrick Keiller a few questions via email about London, both book and film.


John Rogers: I’ve watched the film London countless times and yet I still found the book a new experience. Certain things took on a significance on the page in a way they didn’t in the film for me – such as the laying of the wreaths on the statue of Charles I which appear to be a marker of time. And also the linking of Brent Cross and covered Brixton Market with the reference to the Russian Formalists with Sterne and Apollinaire. Did creating the book make you see the film in a new light after all these years?

Patrick Keiller: The book led me to pay more attention to some of the pictures, as they can be looked at for longer, and hence in more detail, than when watching the film. By 2017 all the 35mm prints had become too worn or damaged to remain in distribution, and the negative was scanned to make a 2K digital version for cinemas and streaming. In 1993, a few publicity images had been copied from 35mm print trims, but otherwise we’d only been able to look at individual frames on a Steenbeck [editing table], which displays a relatively dim, low-resolution image, especially when paused, and although the prints were very sharp and were sometimes projected on very big screens, none of the images are on screen for very long.

After the scan, it was relatively easy to extract high definition frames for publication, and I was very pleased when FUEL asked me if I’d be interested in a book. There’s much more detail in the pictures than I’d expected, and some of them stand out in a way they hadn’t before – the view along the south side of Spitalfields Market, for example, with a man who looks as if he’s just arrived from 1848, and Christ Church at the end (pp. 146-147). I’d almost forgotten about this image, perhaps because in the film it only lasts for five seconds, and follows the slightly longer, closer view of the church. The book’s cover image – which was FUEL’s suggestion – is a portrait-format detail of the landscape-format view along Cannon Street towards St Paul’s (p. 140), with a No. 15 bus. I’d never noticed this image’s potential for reframing, and until the scan, a detail from it wouldn’t have been sharp enough to publish.

In the past, I’ve tended to talk or write about the film in terms of its subject, but it was primarily an attempt to make convincing images.

Patrick Keiller London book

view along the south side of Spitalfields Market – from London by Patrick Keiller (pub, FUEL)

JR: In the introduction to the book you write that the script and story was written after filming. So can you tell me about the process – did you start with a map and walk the routes first? What informed those journeys? As a film-maker I’m interested in the production process and how it contrasts with how you approach production in the digital age.

Would it be possible to attract funding for such a film now?

PK: The film was commissioned from a document with two parts, each a kind of recipe for half the film: the first a series of brief sections in each of which was a group of possible camera subjects and some sample narration; the second outlining sixteen journeys or trips to specific places. Both the cinematography and the narrative of each part were to last about six months. The narrative was to begin in late September, but I reasoned that we could begin the cinematography whenever we were ready, as long as we ended up with twelve months of footage. As it turned out, we started shortly before what would have been the period of the second part. All that survives from the document in the finished film are a few brief passages of narration, two journeys (two of the film’s three ‘expeditions’) and some of the one-off visits. Otherwise the film made itself up as it went along, as a kind of diary of 1992.

I don’t think it would be impossible to work like this now, but in the current climate it might be difficult for an institution to commission a work that begins by describing someone’s return to London as ‘a journey to the end of the world’.

Patrick Keiller London book

gateposts at Vauxhall Park matching a shot from London – John Rogers 2018

JR: Is there a difficulty in capturing a journey on foot in a film unlike the established genre of the road movie by car. When I walked the route of the first walk in the film – from Vauxhall to Richmond (I didn’t make it to Strawberry Hill due to lack of light) I realised how much terrain sits between Clapham Common and Strawberry Hill. How did you negotiate this in the writing and filming?

PK: The first ‘expedition’ is narrated as a walk along the Thames, downstream from Teddington Lock, supposedly embarked on spontaneously after a visit to Strawberry Hill in Twickenham. The protagonists ‘set out for Strawberry Hill’ on 10 March, ‘but were distracted by events on Wandsworth Common’  – an IRA bomb beside the railway tracks. I don’t think we’d planned to go to Strawberry Hill on that day, but Wandsworth Common was near the likely route, so we went to have a look. On 12 March, they ‘set off again, crossing Clapham Common in the rush hour’, the latter phrase accommodating an unplanned image photographed on Clapham Common on 15 March. On 12 March, we drove straight to Strawberry Hill, where we had an appointment, going on to Teddington Lock in the afternoon. The ‘walk’ downstream, on the other hand, occupied us for weeks, as I wanted to be able to choose from views of every bridge to accompany Rimbaud’s Les Ponts, and we broke off to cover the general election and its aftermath, returning to the river later.

The second and third ‘expeditions’ were a little more straightforward, but even so the cinematography for each was undertaken over several weeks (there are dates and other details at the end of the book). Making the film involved plenty of walking, but I don’t think I ever walked more than a mile from the car – the equipment was quite heavy. The journeys narrated in the film are not always the same as the journeys involved in making it.


JR: How do you feel about the way that the stylistic form of film – the locked off shot and narration – gave birth to a genre – Keilleresque ?

PK: I don’t think I’ve ever heard it called that. When people ask about the lack of camera movement, I still don’t know quite what to say – except that London was hardly the first film in which the camera doesn’t move much.


JR: Robinson is an Art Teacher at the University of Barking – was this based on your own experiences of teaching in Walthamstow?

PK: I taught in the school of architecture at the North East London Poly at Walthamstow from autumn 1974 until summer 1982, for two-and-a-half hours a week, then for two days a week from autumn 1983 – after the school had moved to a site in Plaistow – until summer 1988, returning in 1990, by which time it had become the Polytechnic of East London, until early 1992, when we began the cinematography for London. I also taught at Middlesex Polytechnic, later University, in the fine art department (the former Hornsey College of Art), from 1983 until about 1999, though by then I was only working there for about six days a year. I never visited NELP/PEL/UEL’s site at Barking, but liked the idea of a University of Barking.

Patrick Keiller London book

Abbey Creek West Ham, London p.10-11 – near where Patrick Keiller taught at North East London Polytechnic 1983-92

JR: Could the character of Robinson exist today?

PK: Definitely – they’re everywhere.


JR: There was a particular mood in London during 1992 which is brilliantly captured in the film. Was it intentional to shoot in an election year and how would a Labour victory have changed the film?

PK: We hadn’t intended to coincide with an election, though I knew there was going to be one – it couldn’t have been put off any longer – but I don’t remember wondering how to deal with the result – either way – until afterwards.

If Labour had won, perhaps the film would have stuck more closely to its initial intention, which was to identify what made London feel so different from mainland European capitals. Or perhaps it could have looked forward to a future that would be at least less unattractive than that envisaged under the Tories (risking pale imitation of Humphrey Jennings’s A Diary for Timothy). It would have lost some of its sense of alienation, probably many of its crowd scenes, and one of its stars, John Major.


JR: Parts of Robinson’s Vauxhall are unrecognisable from the time of his expeditions. Has the ‘problem of London’ changed since the early 90’s?

PK: For Robinson in 1992, the ‘problem’ seems to have been an overall sense of absence, including what Herzen described as ‘the absence of Continental diversions’, but for more practical people the problem of London, then as now, was housing, except that now, as everybody knows, it’s much worse.

In 1992, however, Robinson ‘argued that the failure of London was rooted in the English fear of cities […] the fear of Europe’. I doubt that he would say that in 2021, when the city’s political, economic and cultural differences from most of the rest of England have become more marked.


JR: Do you think there was something about the Thatcher era that inspired a revival of interest in the idea and practice of psychogeography. In the film Robinson engages in exercises of psychic landscaping and free association. What is your idea of the term?

PK: I did write something like that in 1999, suggesting that by then ‘the transformation of everyday surroundings [was] achieved much less by physical rebuilding than by other means’, that ‘perhaps the impulse to poeticise landscape in this way always coincides with periods of heightened political tension’, and that it might be a response to an absence of radical new architecture. But even I was surprised when Pasqual Maragall, former mayor of Barcelona, in London to receive the RIBA’s 1999 Royal Gold Medal on behalf of the city, compared London’s stasis under Thatcher with Spain’s under Franco.

My understanding of the term is from Guy Debord: ‘Psychogeography will aim to study the precise laws and specific effects of the geographic milieu, consciously planned or not, acting directly on the affective comportment of individuals’. He added that ‘it is not forbidden to think that a future urbanism will apply itself to structures, no less utilitarian, taking into the largest account psychogeographic possibilities’, and it’s always seemed to me that the practice was conceived as preliminary to the creation of spaces that were in some way revolutionary – ‘the hacienda must be built’. For this reason, I used to see it as much too ambitious to apply to what I was doing. But now it’s on the back of the book, so there’s no avoiding it.

Patrick Keiller London book

JR: The film and book seem more prescient with each passing year – how do you feel about the political direction of the country since 1992?

PK: It’s very generous of you to say that! Though I don’t think how I feel about it is much use to anyone, least of all me.

Preparing the book, I was reminded how peculiar the Tory ‘eurosceptics’ seemed in 1992. In the 1990s, the UK’s – or at least England’s – ‘identity’, if any, seemed to derive from its supposed diversity and openness to incoming cultures. As I remember, ‘Britishness’ only began to crop up in the mid-2000s.

It’s always seemed to me that there’s a longstanding discrepancy, much greater than those in comparable European countries, between the UK’s claimed economic performance, measured by GDP etc., and its visible poverty and dilapidation. I think a lot of what I notice results from the increased dominance of the economy by services, particularly finance, which has led to the UK’s current vulnerability.


JR: What are you currently working on – many people are eagerly awaiting your next work?

PK: Just recently I’ve written a brief text to accompany some images that I made last summer of the flight of a pipistrelle bat above the gardens behind the house I live in. Before that, I was devoting a lot of time to preparing the text and pictures for the book, and made a sort of website to accompany its publication.

Meanwhile, and for longer than I care to remember, I’ve been attempting a ‘novel perception’ of the UK’s material economy. I’m trying to find out how 65-million-plus people manage to live here, many of us in relative prosperity.




You can buy the book directly from FUEL here

Art Assembly at Walthamstow Town Hall

Things to Do in Debden When You’re Dead

Brilliantly bizarre end to Art Assembly on Saturday in the Council Chamber at Walthamstow Town Hall. I’d been commissioned to make this film (Things to Do in Debden When You’re Dead) with theatre Director William Galinsky, who’d been asked to re-animate the corpse of William Morris. William Galinsky had responded by writing an unfilmable script – but the idea of attempting to shoot a zombie sci-fi Blader Runner film about William Morris’ News from Nowhere in a day, a week before the screening, was too tempting to turn down. Luckily artists Jessica Voorsanger and Bob and Roberta Smith agreed to take part – Bob playing himself having his chest ripped open by the sock puppet offspring of William Morris. And Jessica as herself who then is zapped into the future and returns as a cyborg Space Captain to wipe out the sockie Morrises and avenge her husband’s death – obviously. Brilliant satirist, Miriam Elia played a gentrifying alien arts administrator and my son, Oliver Rogers, who’d come along to help out with lighting and setting up the camera played opposite Miriam, doing a great job of improvising his lines.

Art Assembly

William Galinsky and the Intergalactic Arts Alliance

The film kicked off the session at the end of Art Assembly, a day-long programme of events around Walthamstow, as a provocation to debate the subject of whether ‘artists should try to change the world’. The panel was chaired by William Gallinsky with the two alien representatives of the Intergalactic Arts Alliance (or something like that) played by Ezra and Miriam Elia, who set the tone by stating that their interest in the arts was to push up property prices. It produced an fascinating debate that veered between absurdity, seriousness, righteous indignation, and incomprehensibility. Which is exactly how it should be.




Make Your Own Damn Art at Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema

Q&A – Travis Elborough, John Rogers, Jessica Voosanger, Bob and Roberta Smith

John Rogers

John Rogers and Travis Elborough

Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema

Q&A – Travis Elborough, John Rogers, Jessica Voosanger, Bob and Roberta Smith


Great evening last Friday at the screening of my documentary about Bob and Roberta Smith, Make Your Own Damn Art at presented by Heavenly Films at Regent Street Cinema. It was a wonderful experience to revisit a film that premiered in 2012 at the East End Film Festival. As Bob commented in the Q&A, it really captured a slice of time, filmed over 3 years between 2009-2012.

Art Assembly

The next day saw another chapter in my collaborations with Bob and his wife, artist Jessica Voorsanger, as we worked together on a slightly bonkers film for Art Assembly this Saturday 23rd November to be screened at The Resurrection of William Morris.

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema at Leytonstone Loves Film

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema’s programme of Films of East London was a great success at Leytonstone Loves Film on Saturday. There were big audiences and fascinating director Q&As. Let’s hope that Leytonstone Loves Film – produced by the Barbican – becomes an annual event.


Adam Kossoff

Adam Kossoff director of The Anarchist Rabbi

Q&A with Adam Kossoff covered the importance of cultural memory, Jewish radicalism, and the life of Rudolph Rocker.

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema - Leytonstone Loves Film

The Anarchist Rabbi

Paul Kelly film-maker

Paul Kelly director of What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day

Paul Kelly explains how he spent several weeks exploring the area around the proposed Olympic Park in the summer of 2005 for his film What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day, that was made for a live performance by pop band St. Etienne at the Barbican later that year.

Ian Bourn introduces Lenny's Documentary

Ian Bourn introduces Lenny’s Documentary

Ian Bourn explained how the idea for Lenny’s Documentary arose in 1978 from wondering what would happen if anyone could make and broadcast a TV programme. Shot on U-Matic, it was a pioneering piece of video art, made when Ian was a student at the Royal College of Art.

Barbican Family Film Hub St. John's Churchyard

Barbican Family Film Hub St. John’s Churchyard

Tehran Taboo

Our next film screening

The next screening at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema – Tehran Taboo is on Wednesday 6th October, 7.45pm at Leytonstone Library