New film celebrates Sheffield's rich music heritage
If you take a visit down to Abbeydale Picture House at 7pm on next Thursday, you’ll be treated to a unique, positive and also an intriguing insight into some of Sheffield’s wonderful musical talent - some hidden, new and well-known - in the documentary Music & Me.
“You know what really kicked off this project? It was the lockdown, it was the excuse I needed to get my camera out from under the bed, to begin to record conversations”, says Sean Osipitan, the founder and owner of Media Energy Production Ltd. It’s a fitting name that is perfectly chosen as a reflection of the mood you feel as soon as striking up a conversation with Sean, in a good way.
“So… what is Music & Me about?”, I asked… a simple yet loaded question. Sean nods sagely before smiling and responding, “It’s a music documentary project about the unity behind music, being one race, one colour, one voice, and there’s no segregation in our nation when it comes to music.” If you were to encapsulate the purpose of the documentary into one paragraph, it would be apt to say it's a love letter of sorts to showcase the positive impact of arts and culture in Sheffield, as well as an introduction to the plethora of musical talent scattered across the city.
“Music should be without boundaries and that’s sort of how [we] coordinated this project”, he didn’t do this all on his own though, something he is very clear to express. Noting the contribution of his team, Lucy Hill (production manager) and Samuel Roomes (Assistant Director). As well as the fact that it was an entirely self-funded project from the outset.
Sean has always held an interest and a passion for film, he studied at two different filmmaking schools in Denmark, living there until 2011 and he also found the time to explore the rest of Scandinavia. He was also involved in the setting up of a Pan-African TV channel for the Bloomberg franchise in Lagos, Nigeria. Not long after that Sean and his partner - who originally hails from Sheffield - returned, where they put down roots in order to raise their family — he even got a ‘regular’ day job for financial stability. As a result, his film career was put on hold but the advent of the pandemic, furlough, and Covid’s lingering impact changed things, somewhat, affording more free time to focus on creativity than he had been able to until recently.
“We started off with Winston Hazel, DJ and producer, he’s been in the game for time”, and it’s quite the understatement. Hazel is seen by many as a dance pioneer, particularly so in the north where he was one of the first to bring house music to the north, before the acid-house popularity explosion.
“Most of the filming started off at Gumbo FM, an internet radio station on Broadfield Road in Meersbrook, they’re good guys there.” The documentary is like a who’s who of the Sheffield music scene, featuring DJs such as the DJ Ann D, Richard ‘Cardiac’ Padmore and Ben ‘Skillz’ Njie, Sheffield Hip and Afrobeat artist Franz Von, the incredibly talented costume painter Clare Jane Garrett, as well as seven hills chanteuse Caroline & the Lights. It’s quickly apparent that what started out as a lockdown film project was beginning to grow into a much broader undertaking.
“We interviewed a lot of people and it just sort of brought together the idea of unity behind music”, Music & Me features interviews with 16 different artists across the city, one of these was the Sheffield-based songwriter and record producer, Eliot Kennedy, who has worked with artists such as, The Spice Girls, Mary J Blige, Gary Barlow, Bryan Adams and The Wanted… to name but a few. “With the amount of work he’s done, he’s still so calm a fella, he’s helped so many people.”
But back to the documentary, Music & Me will be screening at Abbeydale Picture House on 9 September. The 80 minute feature has been created to positively promote Sheffield’s music industry, with throwbacks to the 80’s/90’s and a steady transition into the current era… However, this is just the beginning for Media Energy Productions according to Sean.
“I can picture other artists coming in and just sitting on a chair there with a camera set up at one angle, and another facing in from a different angle. Then we can talk about their music, they can even play a song if they like. This is the beginning of something interesting for us in this space” — think of Sheffield’s very own intimate music setting, like an NPR Tiny Desk Concert if you will.
“I didn’t realise how much talent there was in Sheffield”, he says with a smile. Honestly, he’s just beginning to scratch the surface.
You can purchase a ticket for the screening of Music & Me on Skiddle: https://bit.ly/3yB9aan