Main Stage

Main Stage takes the 1989 Reading Festival as its starting point and features the 29 artists who played the main stage that year as a vehicle to tell a much bigger story. Using archive footage and interviews with all these acts, it’s a look at success, failure and all the points between in the life of a musician.

Filming commenced in 2007 and the film is due to be completed in time for the 20th anniversary of the Festival in 2009. Already, the diverse and varied stories that have been captured have begun to present an intelligent, intriguing and fresh look at what it means to have (or not have) a career as a musician and how people deal with the obstacles and unexpected turns placed in the way of their creativity and dreams.

View a taster of the film here

Read on for the full synopsis….

If you are a long time fan of any of the bands who played the 1989 Festival and you have archive footage or photography that you would be interested in contributing then you can get in touch with our archivist by dropping us a line to

Main Stage Full Synopsis

The main stage the title refers to is that of the 1989 Reading Festival. This is the year that the event changed from being an all out ‘Rock’ weekend and into the more eclectic and alternative festival it remains today. This is the starting point for the film and the common link between the diverse and widespread stories, thoughts and experiences we hope to present.

29 acts lined up for the festival that August bank holiday weekend: Gaye Bykers on Acid; Spacemen 3; My Bloody Valentine; That Petrol Emotion; Tackhead; Swans; House of Love; Sugarcubes; New Order; Something Happens; Bhundu Boys; Les Negresses Vertes; The Men They Couldn’t Hang; Mary Coughlan; Green On Red; Billy Bragg; Wedding Present; New Model Army; The Pogues; World Domination Enterprises; Head of David; Loop; Jesus Jones; Crazyhead; Pop Will Eat Itself; Voice of the Beehive; Butthole Surfers; The Wonderstuff and The Mission.

Almost twenty years on, I have thought a lot about what it means to be a musician – a rock musician, a songwriter, a performer; aspirant and professional. Looking back at that 1989 line-up; all those different people with their ideas, dreams and their music shared a stage that weekend. It’s the same every year, of course, but this was my first festival, and I want to hear what those people think now. About being a musician; what that meant then and how the reality differs from the dream. What does it mean now? I want to mix the stories up and throw them together again. Bjork discusses innovation and fame… cut to Billy Bragg’s thoughts on songwriting then and now… cut to Keith Dobson from World Domination Enterprises... cut to Kevin Shields… cut to David Gedge… cut to Hooky from New Order… and so on whilst we also see archive footage, stills etc. Not so much the stories and memories of the 1989 Reading Festival, I don’t intend to make a ‘where are they now’ or ‘I love 1989’ film but a social document on the nature of being in a band, of success and failure and all points inbetween with the common link of the festival as a starting point. How did they get onto that main stage, what was it like and how important was it to be there and what happened after they walked off it?

The second thread to this documentary will be a series of interviews with young bands/musicians who are at the very start of their musical careers. These interviews will be conducted at rehearsal rooms/school music rooms and venues and will focus on the dreams/ambitions/thoughts and goals these young people have, what a career in music might hold for them and how this all compares to the experiences of the professional musicians we will be talking with.

It is my intention to film intimate and informal interviews with at least one person from each of the acts that played on the main stage of the 1989 Reading Festival and present these with archive footage from the festival, stills, archive press pieces as well as new performances from those artists still working. The finished film will be presented as a 60min version for television and an 80min theatrical/festival edit.

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