Extremes

Created on 17/1/2008

When I was but a callow slip of a lad, many years ago, I made a film called Extremes. This small feature length documentary masterpiece won several awards and prizes such as An Outstanding Film of the Year at the 1971 London Film Festival.

At the time I was proud to be the youngest person to have made a film with a West End premiere in the history of the British cinema. It didn’t make much money at all, and I remember thinking that it would be great to have some money in my pocket. As Peter Ustinov remarked to me in another film I made around the same time, “what do prizes such as the Golden Crutch of Lourdes or the Prize of Good Humor From the Buddhist League really mean when you need to pay the rent?”

On the plus side one of the great things about making creative things like films is that they resonate for many years. This little film I made as a transient work of art continues to have a small impact and resonate in different ways so many years later. I still get enquiries about this, and other films I have made all the time. Some are serious, or academic or just plain nuts but all deserve attention.

Last February I received enquiries from both French and Italian academics both of who were interested in the music of the group Supertramp that we used on this film. It’s strange how these things work out. When we were making Extremes we had a film financier named Barry Jacobs, and he was also going to distribute the film through his company, Eagle Films. Barry was, we were to discover, not really looking for high art, he was honest about wanting to make money, and had no pretensions in that regard. I guess we didn’t understand each other, or as the man once said, what we had here was a failure to communicate.

We, that is my then business and creative partner, Mike Lytton and me, wanted to make a serious social documentary whereas Mr. Jacobs asked, after viewing our first week’s filming, “Where’s all the tits and ass?” We were pure in our ambition, and couldn’t believe his attitude. We had a furious set of creative difference with him at this juncture, which we had no way of winning.

Ironically, Barry’s wishes were to be unintentionally satisfied by us shortly thereafter when we filmed on the beach at the Isle of Wight pop festival. Tens of thousands of young festival attendees decided the weather was perfect to parade themselves naked and proud on the beach. The police helicopter circled overhead warning them to get dressed or be arrested, but everyone could see that it would be physically impossible to arrest several tens of thousand of nude people.

We started to film this amazing scene but were instantly threatened with stoning by the naked young. The only way they would let us film them was for us to disrobe to gain general tacit acceptance of our filming this amazing scene. Luckily my mighty zoom lens was circumspectly covering the Klinger nether regions in photographs of the adventure.

The filming carried on like this in a series of wild adventures that will, one day be the subject of a book for the wild at heart and young in spirit.

Later we were on the lookout for suitable music to be on the soundtrack for the film. Of course, as ever, the budget was far tighter than our wild ambition. Mister Jacobs had proved by this stage that he was not prone to over indulge our tastes so whatever music we got would have to be for a “no money deal”. As Mister Jacobs made it clear he was not giving us another penny.

By this time, a couple of small films into our careers, although only about 19 or 20 years old, we knew some people who might help. We soon managed to dig up music that we were passionate about which fitted the bill.

I remember screening our film’s rough assembly for one of the groups in question. They were smoking materials that gave off an odd odor and clearly were a little otherwise engaged mentally. I heard one of them mutter occasionally, “I’m getting buzzes, man, real buzzes.” I wasn’t sure if this was good or bad, but the rest of the band were also nodding their heads collectively in the small Soho screening room. I was quietly asking Mike what they meant and he replied, “I don’t bloody know, but I think they’re smiling.”

It turns out he was right. When the lights came up the band was indeed, buzzing. I don’t quite remember what they said but it was undoubtedly profound and valid. The upshot was that the band liked the film so much that they were prepared to let us have their music for our film. We were thrilled as we loved the music, and for very little money, they did the deal. It was a little more money than we had, but we were confident that we could raise the additional cash.

But before I could make the arrangements their manager telephoned me and whispered to me that he thought we could do a bit more business. He told me that he was prepared to sell me half the rights to all the tracks we were going to use in exchange for a further £750. I thought this was the best deal since sliced bread was invented, but not having any money I countered with £500, we agreed to split the difference if I could come up with the money that week. It turned out that the band couldn’t keep up the payments on some of their kit; I think it was the drums and also needed a down payment on a van.

We rushed round to our esteemed executive producer who listened impatiently to my explanation and then told me to f… off! I expanded on the theme telling him that this was a fantastic business opportunity for him but he told me to keep to our budget and not waste his time. He thought we were totally mad, and left us in no doubt that he didn’t share our taste in music or budget control.

We left the Eagle Films office and I called the manager of the band with the bad news. He told me that he’d find the money somewhere else, and evidently he did.

The group was Supertramp and you can imagine how we felt when every track we had chosen was used soon after on their mega successful albums, which we could have owned a large chunk of for a few hundred pounds!

Time passed and now I was living in Los Angles playing for a football team I helped put together. We were pretty good, and our charity showbiz team virtually never lost. In it were people like Rod Stewart, Marty Feldman and many visiting celebrities and a couple of the lads from Supertramp.

We never talked much about old times but I was just finishing a film I produced with my late father, Michael Klinger, called Riding High that starred the motor bike star and all round lovely bloke,
Eddie Kidd. I wanted to use another Supertramp track, and decided to ask their company, who had the catchy name, Mismanagement Inc. for a deal. They were business like and very reluctant but eventually we did a deal and the track was included. I have to say that the piece of music was superior to the film.

A couple of year later into our football team in the States came someone from the Supertramp management, Dave Margerisson, who I knew as a rather slow winger. I told him about our deals in the past. He thought I was nuts since, he patiently explained, Supertramp simply didn’t do music for film deals. I should have asked him to listen to the group’s own “Logical Song” but it didn’t occur to me to do so. Now the football is long consigned to history, but somehow the music and the movie linger in the memory.