I love Christopher Fowler and although this is much more autobiographical than the enticing cover would suggest this is a read as comfortable as a chat down the pub with an old mate. Fowler being Fowler you can be pretty sure that this particular pub would be hidden in a Soho alleyway and be closely associated with a Victorian serial killer. Fowler leaves school tries his hand in the advertising industry then follows his heart into a partnership with close friend Jim publicising and promoting films first in England and then in Hollywood. Throughout there are fascinating insights in to how the film industry works, Cannes comes across as frighteningly seedy, but for me most enjoyable sections were the stream of consciousness diversions into the history of favourite films. As with the brilliant Bryant and May series Fowlers love of London and it's darker history is well to the fore and I found it revealing that in a passage describing a road to Damascus viewing of Dario Argento our hero realised that sometimes having a plot that actually makes sense is the least of a great entertainers' concerns.
Film Freak is the second instalment of Christopher Fowler's autobiography and finds a young Mr Fowler leaving his Greenwich home hoping to find work as a film writer and heading for Wardour Street in London, the centre of the British film industry in the 1970's.The problem is the British film industry is in decline with cinemas being redeveloped and the emergence of video. The outcome of this finds Christopher eventually finding work as an advertising copywriter. We then follow his career as he moves into film advertising and meets Jim Sturgeon who becomes a lifelong friend, soul mate and mentor. This relationship forms the emotional core of the book and is beautifully written to involve the reader and make you care about their journey together.
We follow the ups and downs of branching out and starting your own business, a disastrous but hilarious trip to the Cannes Film Festival, the dealings with non creative clueless executives, difficult stars and dire films. I found it an easy book to read and the pace never slackens, the characters of the main protagonists are instantly likeable and engaging. Through all the adventures, Mr Fowler seems to have amassed the type of friends most men would like to have in their life, eccentric, gifted and individual in thought as well as deed, some of whom are so brazen and seat of the pants foolhardy you feel like cheering.
More than once whilst reading this book I found myself laughing out loud on the train to work. I now have a list of films I need to see and also some to shamefully revisit. What this book does very well is convey a feel for those times, the sometimes grubby underbelly and the quick buck film which heralded the steady decline of the British Film industry. If you were around in the seventies and feel like reliving your misspent youth I thoroughly recommend Film Freak. It's not a nostalgic look at the times but more a warts and all telling of how it was. It will make you remember just how good or just how bad it could be.
I Can not add much more to the other worthy reviews of this book other than to say.
So much of the text was somewhat familiar. In that having be an active reader of Mr Fowlers Blog some things he has written about have come up on his Blog and some spoken about in different language. Whilst reading the book your drawn into his life and how he viewed it back then when he was just a mere slip of a boy, By which I mean a school leaver going into "Work" for the first time. How much life seemed easy back then. The book is written like your sitting having a chat with the man himself and you get that feeling of how genuine a man Mr Fowler is.
I loved one section in his book particularly where he "Decided He was probably Gay" I love the way this just comes out and so matter of factually without any big drama.
Well done MR Fowler.
I would Recommend it to anyone, even if they don't know who Christopher Fowler is they will soon find out and want to find out more.
In Fowler's second volume of autobiography the story moves to the 1970s and opens with him leaving home, hoping to find a job working in the film industry in London. He heads for Wardour Street and settles in an office where one day a new member of staff arrives, a man called Jim Sturgeon, and they become friends.
As the story is told it becomes clear that this isn't really a book about films - naturally there are numerous tales of being on the set of the likes of "Goldeneye" or working on promotions for other pictures, and aborted ideas for Michael Jackson at one point, not to mention a couple of "top ten"s or favourite London-based films - but is instead about Fowler's friendship with Sturgeon, and how they changed through the 1970s and 80s. It seems that they are almost inseparable, and in many respects their friendship reads as something of a love story, and an incredibly touching one at that.
Funny in parts, tear-jerking in others, this is a fantastic read. Just don't expect it to be a book about films - it's much more than that, and all the better for it.
Excellent follow up to "Paperboy". A touching and witty autobiographical story of one mans love of film and London. I did not want this to end, a truly lovely evocation of a time and place. I hope there will be a further volume.
A quick glance through its pages made Film Freak an instant purchase. Then, once I started reading the book, I virtually put everything else on hold and completed the 347 pages just over a weekend. An immensely, chatty memoir, it truly lives up to the praise heaped upon it by the reviewers.
Christopher Fowler wanted to be a screenwriter in the British film industry but the industry was struggling to survive, so directions had to change and he arrived into the realms of advertising, first as a copywriter for commercial products before getting involved with selling movies. But it's more than a book about life within declining industry, it's also about friendship, how Fellows found a film soulmate, business partner and mentor in Jim Sturgeon, whose "nothing's any problem" attitude saw the duo survive good and bad times with memorable, and frequently, very funny incidents, among them dealing with celebrities, mad men and clueless executives, James Bond promotions, working on movie sets, bankruptcy, a disastrous Cannes Film Festival, and a probably best-be-forgotten sojourn in Hollywood.
Throughout Fellows casts his thoughts on films, in particular the arrival of the low budget sex films and tv spin-offs, double features and all night programmes, the closure of numerous British cinemas - thanks to property developers and arrival of home video - and the demise of Wardour Street as the UK's centre of film distribution. (I vividly remember, as a youngster in the 1950s, the street crammed with movie posters as one company after another attracted passers-by with their forthcoming attractions). Such events, thanks to Fellows' casual method of recounting history, come across with genuine feeling, with Sturgeon's tragic passing finally closing the doors to that segment of the author's life. A memorable biography and you don't need to be a Film Freak to enjoy it!
I initially thought that I was not going to like this book.However I warmed to it when I realised that he was often writing about films that I had seen and cinemas I had visited.I had visited the great cinemas getting as tatty as the film's,awaiting closure.The decline of the British film industry till there was virtually nothing left.It seems I was luckier being on the outside looking in than the inside looking out.