Oly Ralfe: The Childmen

As all good Boosh fans will know, 15th November marks the release of the long-awaited Future Sailors Tour documentary, Journey of the Childmen. The film is something of a labour of love by Oliver Ralfe, film maker, musician and all round respected member of the Booshniverse. During the busy build up to the DVD release, Oly has very kindly agreed to answer a few questions for The Velvet Onion. Here’s what he had to say:
© Pascal Amoyel

Hi Oly. First off, how did you meet the Boosh?

I first met them at the Hen and Chickens pub theatre in London where they used to play on Monday nights. I was slightly apprehensive of Julian but he bought me a pint so things were ok from then. Noel thought I was the ghost of Syd Barratt. Actually I was a friend of Nigel Coan who made the Boosh animations.

There was a preview of the film on the Future Sailors live DVD.  How different is the final version?

The extra on the Future Sailors DVD was 20 minute work-in-progress extract: a couple of scenes. Here is the complete 8o minute feature that has been showing at film festivals and has been developed and worked on until the last few weeks.

How were the DVD extras decided?

For the extras I had the idea of including short films, and then we found quite a few. I saw Savage Canvas directed by Tim Hope at a screening in the summer and it was hilarious. I also put in a short documentary I did, and a festival intro I filmed with Noel and Julian. Curtains took a while to sort out so was a last-minute addition, but it is there which is great, and people can get a taste of Julian’s directing.  I think it’s a strong set of Boosh-related films to have on one dvd.

When you watch Journey of The Childmen now, is there anything you wish you’d captured/included that isn’t in the film?

Making a documentary you are always aware of what you might get if you filmed more. That’s especially true with Julian and Noel who always come up with great dialogue and ideas. But that said, I don’t feel like anything is missing from this film. I filmed a lot and I think the end result is funny, emotional, sometimes strange, and feels like a journey. Hopefully others will agree.

© Oliver Ralfe

Is there anything you wanted to include in the film which the Boosh made you leave out?

Apart from a couple of thoughts, Julian and Noel left me to it and haven’t tampered with the film. I feel very connected to their feeling and comedy style anyway, and have shared a lot of films with Julian in particular.  The film is true to me but I always wanted Julian and Noel to be pleased,  that was the vision. Being the subject of the film I think it’s hard for them to judge and I think the end result is different to anything they have done before, but I think that’s interesting and exciting. It’s more intimate than their other. Having been to screenings I’m pretty confident the film works as a documentary and also in a comedy way. It’s an experiment which is very Boosh.

Did you edit the film as you went along or at the end of filming?

The editing all happened after the filming. I had a daunting pile of tapes which Jim, my editor,  and I sifted through over a few weeks in one big chunk. This led to a rough edit that has been developed over the last year. I went to the UK festival screenings and was able to feel the audience’s response – when the laughs came or if the film dragged at all.  I made some great animations with a guy called Adam Leary and then fine-tuned and added scenes to the film in response to the screenings. It’s been a labour of love!

Most of the theatrical showings of the film were in the US. Why was the exposure concentrated there?

The screenings have mainly been in the USA because that’s where most invitations came from.  I think there’s a lot of interest in the Boosh in the USA as it’s new out there. I distributed it myself one by one.  They picked up on the film in Boston first and that led to other screenings. I went to Los Angeles and for a few days I slept upstairs in The Silent Movie Theatre where the film was shown. There where photos of silent movie stars on the walls and they still have the old organ in the cinema.

In Britain it’s been harder to organize screenings, outside the bigger system. More people should start cinemas in Britain, even in their garden sheds.


© Oliver Ralfe, Dave Brown (photo)

Are there other documentaries that you admire?


To name a few – Don’t Look Back about Bob Dylan on tour in the UK in 1965. Grey Gardens [which is] about two eccentric aristocratic ladies who live in a crumbling mansion in upstage New York. American Movie [which is] about a struggling horror film director desperately trying to make his film with no money. There are a lot more but those are all great. They’re observational films that are both hilarious and moving. In terms of comedy films I’ve always loved Tony Hancock’s feature film The Rebel, about a frustrated artist bank clerk. He’s rather similar to Howard Moon.

Finally then, can you describe the Future Sailors tour in 3 words?

Epic Boosh pilgrimage

Thanks to Oly once again – and if you missed our previous chat with him, you can see it here. You can pre-order Journey of the Childmen for the bargainful price of £12.93 by visiting our Amazon Store.

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