Sheffield Fringe

Living on the Edge + Sheffield Media Unit

Sunday 16 June 2013, 4:30pm

Bloc Projects
71 Eyre Lane
Sheffield S1 4RB

Living on the Edge + Sheffield Media Unit
Image courtesy Sheffield Media Unit


Powerfully reminiscent of contemporary Britain, the selection of films in this programme mixes music, media and politics, encapsulating the spirit and attitude of Britain in the 1980s.

In 80s Sheffield, politics were gutsy, electronic music was taking off and the award winning Sheffield Media Unit was facilitating a new era of media activism. Providing opportunities for serious play, and an alternative media space for young people to have their say, cultural resilience and bold experimentation are found in abundance in this selection of short films from the extraordinary Sheffield Media Unit archive.

Living on the Edge, a powerful documentary made for ITV in 1987, is a prescient and elegiac portrait of three families struggling to survive in Thatcher’s Britain. Observing the minutiae of everyday life, and weaving an impressionistic mosaic of archive, filmmaker Michael Grigsby places working class people at the heart of this exceptional film.

Living on the Edge is shown in memory of Michael Grigsby (1936-2013) a unique and inspirational filmmaker and teacher, whose films and thoughtful approach to filmmaking has influenced many of us.

With special thanks to Georgia Stone, Andi Stamp, Sylvia Harvey, Sean Cubitt, John Furse, Rebekah Tolley & Tony Dowmunt.

Selected by Jen Fearnley, filmmaker based in London, and Amanda McDowell, filmmaker and PhD candidate at Goldsmiths.


Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge | Michael Grigsby | 1986 | 16mm  to  video | 81 min

Living On The Edge is a remarkably successful and intensely moving fusion of two different visions. On the one hand it is a clear continuation of Mike Grigsby’s quite remarkably consistent oeuvre, which has allowed the exploited, the forgotten, the taken-for-granted, the voiceless to speak at some length and in their own words.
On the other hand it relates to a long-term project undertaken by John Furse, the film’s producer and co-deviser, entitled The Struggle For The Land, which he wrote but never filmed. In this he attempted to analyse what he terms the “selling of reality”, utilising collage form to discuss the historical forces at work in moulding people’s everyday experience.’ (Julian Petley: The Monthly Film Bulletin, June 1987)

Sheffield Media Unit Shorts

Sheffield Media Unit Shorts | Sheffield Media Unit | UK 1984-1989 | Video

VHS excerpts from:
Rate Capping | 4’10
Kidswork – Nosey Neighbours | 1’20
Youthwatch – BBC TV | 8’13

Extended looped VHS programme

Extended looped VHS programme | Sheffield Media Unit | UK 1984-89 | Video on VHS

Sex and Emotion in Pop Music | 2’
Who Wants to be a Pop Star Anyway? | 1’28
Danny and the Dustbins | 1’22
Sex in the Media | 2’57
Disabled on Camera | 3’46
Out Phone – Your Line Out | 1’17
Sheaf View – Youth Soap Operas | 2’23
Pakistan to Britain | 1’28
Perfect Complexions – Youth in the Media | 8’06