Beneficial Shock! With a name like that it was always clear that this was a film magazine that wanted to do things a little differently. We put a few questions to the creative pair behind the magazine, Gabriel Solomons and Phil Wrigglesworth, to find out why they took a cattle prod to the genre…
What are your day jobs?
Well, we are both freelance pet detectives specialising in yellow-bellied weasels (those scoundrels get into all sorts of mischief), but for tax purposes state that we are part-time university lecturers.
Where did the idea or inspiration for Beneficial Shock! come from?
The initial idea came fully formed through a lucid dream after consuming an entire box of double stuffed Oreos. Alfred Hitchcock himself handed us a sacred scroll containing what, at first, appeared to be a shopping list, but later revealed itself to be a recipe for cinematic storytelling through the art of illustration. As neither of us could decipher the text due to Hitch's appalling handwriting, we concocted our own idea for a magazine that would use illustration, visual documentation and design in humorous and irreverent ways to expressively interpret film related content.
It’s a very interesting cast of contributors. Can you tell us a bit about who’s involved?
Well – it's really a motley crew of charlatans, crooks and fraudsters who somehow persuaded us to publish their highly dubious works. We're still convinced that Jay Wright spiked our drinks during a night out and Elin Williams hijacked our macbooks to ensure their drawings would make it into issue one! The police were informed but the only culprit we managed to put behind bars is David McMillan, who is currently in solitary confinement with limited access to unsharpened crayons.
I’ve seen a couple of entertaining, if slightly crazed film trailers for Beneficial Shock! which I take to be part of your aim to ‘champion progressive thinking’ around cinema. What exactly do you mean by progressive thinking?
I guess by progressive we mean stuff that moves forward – kinda' like an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle but with a much better wind-up mechanism (because let's face it, that original Energizer one sucked!) So much of film writing sticks to the usual formula of describing what someone saw and throwing in a bunch of filmic geek-speak to dazzle those in the cheap seats. We wanted to throw the doors open and allow our writers to go on flights of fantasy while not straying too far away from the source material, i.e. the films they are talking about. This makes it fun for the writers and gives our illustrators lots to play with when they create work as a response to the written content.
Beneficial Shock! is fizzing with aesthetic and intellectual stimulation – it doesn’t seem to sit still. Is this a creatively designed film magazine or are you using film as the vehicle for a graphic design magazine
It's funny you should pick up on that Dan, as we were forced to work at a funfair for a week after being kicked out of our studio. Pages 5-47 were actually put together while riding the bumper cars, so that fizziness you mention really felt like whiplash to us most of the time! We consider film to be universal in its appeal and so a good lift-off point for creative expression. Get em' through the turnstiles so to speak, turn the lights down low and pull the curtains wide for something that little bit different.
As someone who isn’t an avid filmgoer I was pleased I could pick up on many of the references and I’ve seen quite a few of the films the magazine mentions or explores. Is it fair to say Beneficial Shock! is about finding new angles, or altering perceptions about films we thought we knew?
We like to think of ourselves as the magazine equivalent of 2001: A Space Odyssey's 'Star Gate'; furiously fast, colourful, energetic and likely to cause travel sickness in those with sensitive dispositions.
I loved David McMillan’s ‘Extra-Ordinary’ strip. Can you promise you’ll continue the storyline?
His application for early release is currently being reviewed, so we'll just have to see. He did a fairly good job of drawing the warden's portrait recently – albeit with the only crayon left in his box; electric lime – which should help his case.