A Brief History of Coventry's Film-making Network, Call The Shots.

PART TWO: So Call The Shots, the unique forum under which local film-makers could network and collaborate had expired, exposing a deficient, isolated scene, inhabited by creative refugees and struggling, aspiring film-makers.

However, Wood and Pinches were defiant, certain that Call The Shots could still play a valuable role in Coventry’s film-making, they set about plotting its comeback. (Cue Rocky Theme).

Just a couple of months later, Wood issued a call to arms, proposing the relaunch of Call The Shots with a screening event at Warwick Arts Centre. He also appealed for short films to be considered for the program, which would be headlined by Romans 12:20, the latest short by BAFTA winner, Geoff Thompson who would also conduct a Q and A at the end. A few years earlier, Wood had successfully talked Thompson into becoming a patron of Call The Shots. Wood cites Thompson, a former city doorman, as a particular paragon of the Call The Shots ethos.
“He just got on with it.” Says Wood, who cornered Thompson after a presentation, simply asked if he would endorse the group. “Geoff’s a very approachable guy. Very humble. Very easy going. There was a member who knew Geoff and he asked him if he was interested in doing a talk for the group. Geoff agreed and actually brought his BAFTA along, which we found extremely inspirational! A year or so later he came and did another talk for us and it was after that one, I offered him patronage of the group.” Wood reveals.

The Call The Shots relaunch was a massive success.  Wood and Pinches had managed to galvanize and marshal many local and regional film-makers out of the the lonely corners of space and into the same orbit for the night and so, like Coventry’s analogical phoenix rising from the ashes, Call The Shots accomplished a miraculous resurrection.

Following a very productive year (in which I directed a short called EGG with the group), Wood succeeded Pinches as chairman, affording Pinches the time to produce his first feature film, Schrödinger’s Girl (which would later be re-named Triple Hit). It has to be said, Wood’s fanaticism for film-making enabled him to step into the role of chairman with Arthurian poise. Over the year’s, his selfless and unrelenting ground work has led him to the throne of Coventry’s grass roots scene. These days, he is widely considered to be somewhat of an oracle. Pretty much every film-maker in Coventry and the surrounding area knows him or knows of him. Under Wood’s charge, Call The Shots has gone from strength-to-strength. These days, the group is robust and regimented. It has an elected committee, a treasurer and a website (which is currently undergoing a make-over). There’s a strong sense of responsibility and distilled ambition that runs through the group. It is defiant against the paucity of industry support, with film-makers creating their own opportunities and making short films with and for no money, if needs be. The Herbert are back offering support, a little less conditional on content (but films about necrophilia and constipation are still frowned upon!) John Gore at Warwick Arts Centre remains a close ally, as is the Institute For Creative Enterprise, the group’s current meeting venue. Wood has also been able to rehabilitate his film night, with his own exhibition label called Roots To Shoots and he’s even managed to expand it, with a regular film night in Leamington.

Indeed, the turnover of independent film-making in the city is so abundant and diverse right now, it has prompted film-maker, Alan Van Wijgerden, into focusing his second feature documentary on film-making itself. Reel Dreams will examine Wijgerden’s own thirty year career alongside the city’s other flicker-makers, drawing out their hopes and dreams and committing them to record.  It will no doubt be an interesting document in years to come. Unsurprisingly, Wood will appear in the film.

Ultimately, Wood hopes to slash and scar the complexion of the British film industry with Call The Shots, using the sharp side of the group’s talent and shear determination.
“I’m certain that Call The Shots has a significant role to play within the British Film Industry.” He says. “Groups like ours up and down the country feed into it. But the government and the local film commissions have got to give us more breaks. The creative industry need support.”

After all, Call The Shots is a non-profit organisation. The small annual fee goes towards paying for the group’s public liability insurance and supporting and promoting the films and the film-makers. “Our film-makers are very generous with their time and exchange of skills and I think they deserve some opportunities to make some of their films with a bit of funding and see how far they can take it.” Wood adds.

Speaking of generosity, I often wonder where Wood gets his time from.  As the current chairman of Call The Shots, a freelance video maker, producer on multiple shorts, organiser and host of Roots To Shoots in Coventry and Leamington, a part time media studies teacher at Warwickshire college and a husband, surely there has to be some cost for this devotion?
“My own work.” He states. “I haven’t done as much as I would like in recent years, as a director. But this year, I’d like to concentrate on my passion project, Afternoons.”
Afternoons is a quasi-fictional account of Coventry’s legendary Poet Philip Larkin, and will mark a return to directing for Wood. “My wife Jeanette, is co-writing this with me and then I’m going to call in ten years worth of favours to make it.”

Ten years before his death, Robert Altman received a heart transplant.  Such was his passion for film-making, he kept it a secret because he was afraid if people knew about it, he wouldn’t be hired to direct again. He effectively prolonged his life so he could continue to make movies.

Comparatively, Call The Shots has endeavoured to live on, one way or another. At the risk of sounding sappy, you could say that Wood was the heart transplant it needed. His enthusiasm, the lifeblood that now courses freely through it’s veins. When Altman said that film-making is a chance to live many lifetimes, it was more than just a summary of his work and life experiences. It was a plea to survive, and if there’s one thing that Call The Shots represents more than anything (apart from film-making of course), it’s survival. A true Coventrian trait if ever there was one.

Call The Shots meet every 3rd Tuesday of each month 7pm, at the Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE), Parkside (opposite Coventry’s Technology Park), CV1 2TT. For more information on Call The Shots, visit Coventry and Warwickshire’s Film-making Network or the facebook page.