In the early 2000s, the Manchester music scene — and its most scene-connected label, Factory Records — became the basis of one of pop’s most unexpectedly beguiling feature films, 24 Hour Party People. This summer, Creation Stories, a quasi-companion piece to that movie, plans to start shooting in London.
The film focuses on the life and musical discoveries of Alan McGee, the Scottish head of Creation Records — the U.K. indie label that, throughout the Eighties and Nineties, rolled out Oasis, the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub and more of the most beloved bands of the era. “Alan and his label reinvented the music industry,” director Nick Moran tells Rolling Stone. “Certainly in the U.K. at the time of the early Nineties, record sales were on the wane and the music industry was in the grip of a sterile corporate cloud. Creation rekindled the indie scene into a mass movement that became the most explosive period in Britain’s cultural relevance since the Sixties. All this from an office run on nothing but recreational drug use and anarchy.”
Based on McGee’s memoir, The Creation Records Story: Riots, Raves and Running a Label, the movie boasts a solid cast (Ewan Bremner as McGee alongside with Rupert Everett and Suki Waterhouse) and a screenplay written by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh. Orian Williams, part of the team behind the Ian Curtis and Joy Division biopic Control, co-produced the film.
Still, Creation Stories almost collapsed months ago when one of its backers pulled out. Rescue arrived in the form of director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, and the upcoming Yesterday), who is lending his name and clout to help keep the project afloat. “Nick rang me up and said, ‘We’re just about to start shooting and somebody’s dropped out finance-wise and can you help?’” Boyle says. “So my job is to say, ‘I hope you see we’re serious and will raise the money so stay with us.’ I’m just trying to help the project a little bit. It’s not a Bohemian Rhapsody-style budget, but it’s a very compelling story.”
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According to Moran, the movie will tell McGee’s life by way of “flashbacks from fictitious interviews,” starting with his youth in Seventies Glasgow, progressing to his move to London in the Eighties to start Creation, and culminating with the folding of the label in 1999. As a result, Creation Stories will take in glam and punk as well as Creation bands — from its most famous to later label signings like House of Love and the label’s foray into acid house.
Exactly which rockers will be depicted in the film (and by whom) is currently under wraps: “Some rock stars will be portrayed, others will be portraying,” says Moran. The soundtrack, though, will incorporate original recordings by Creation bands, although Moran says in some case concert cuts may be used “to recreate the atmosphere of the live gigs.”
Boyle, who grew up with punk, says he has “deep Scottish and Manchester connections,” both key locations for the bands that came out of Creation. “The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Oasis — it’s like, ‘Holy fuck!’” he says. “It was irresistible, really.” Boyle also sees the project as a piece with the movie industry’s surging fascination with music biopics: “There’s a case for people realizing more and more how important music is. It’s the unspoken architecture of our lives, for so many of us.”