In 1991, a band with the unlikely name of Manic Street Preachers came on to the British music scene proclaiming ambitions to make one album, sell 16 million copies of it, and then split up. A quarter century, multiple hit records and one missing member later, they are still here. Now this colourful and contentious band faces off with their equally colourful and contentious fans in a verité multimedia mash-up experiment that will turn the traditional rock’n’roll documentary upside-down and shake it until all the change falls out of its pockets.
For the making of No Manifesto, the Manics provided unprecedented access. The film tells the story of the band’s rise from mouthy punks to international renown, takes a fascinating look at the band's creative process, and joins them on tour. By combining footage shot at home and on the road with rare archival materials and fan interviews that provide commentary, lore, criticism and praise, No Manifesto gives a comprehensive look at a most unusual band.
I decided to make a film about Manic Street Preachers because I loved their music and thought that they had an interesting story. I had noticed that up to that point, the books that had been written and the TV programmes that had been made about the Manics seemed to take the attitude that the only thing that was particularly interesting about the band was the story of Richey Edwards. While Richey was a unique character and his disappearance an intriguing mystery, I felt that there was much more to the Manics than that. I wanted to look at the other three members of the band as musicians and as people, rather than just as players in a tabloid story. I also felt that their devoted but never sycophantic fan community deserved some attention. Fans are often given short shrift or ignored entirely in rock documentaries, but in some ways the story of a band isn't complete without input from their fans. I knew that Manics fans have very strong opinions about their band and would be happy to express them, and that this would make for a very interesting film indeed.
We began filming in the fall of 2002 by interviewing these fans. We combined these interviews with archival materials to make a 20-minute pitch tape in hopes of attracting the participation of the band. The pitch tape did pique their interest, but at the time they were preparing to record a new album and that took precedence. In November of 2004, they agreed to work with us.
Major filming with the band took place between the spring of 2005 and the summer of 2007. During that time, we filmed the band in several cities in England and Wales, as well as at a residential recording studio in Ireland. Supplemental material was shot in 2009 when the Manics toured America for the first time in ten years. Throughout that time we continued to interview fans, over 100 fans in six different countries, and their knowledge, humour and passion are a true highlight of the film.
And now, over 12 years after we first began this journey, I'm excited and proud to let No Manifesto out into the world to be enjoyed by the fans that helped make it possible, and by others who may watch only because they like documentaries or vaguely remember the Manics from their 90's heyday. The members of Manics, James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire, deserve a lot of credit for allowing us into their lives for such an intimate look at just what makes Manic Street Preachers one of the best rock bands in the world. Looking beautiful, of course!
Elizabeth Marcus, Director