Oh! My Friends - a film by Andy Holden

29 Apr 2020

Andy Holden’s film Oh! My Friends examines friendship and how it is shaped by the media we consume. The film was commissioned for the exhibition Good Grief, Charlie Brown! at Somerset House in 2018 and for the first time we share the film online in full, for a limited period, the latest instalment in our PAUSE series.

40mins, 4 channel film, made for the exhibition Good Grief Charlie Brown at Somerset House 2018. 

Andy Holden introduces the film:

The film was made as a response to the exhibition Good Grief, Charlie Brown!, displaying the history of Charlie Brown and Peanuts at Somerset House, and for which I felt that I would explore the theme of friendship as it evolves from childhood to adulthood, based on its prevalence in the original Schultz strips.  The film is viewed from single beds, each with Peanuts duvets, including one of my own that I owed as a child. The film is unapologetically emotional and introspective, the product of a period of intense self-reflection and unexpected personal upheaval. 

The film came from studying the format of ‘rockumentaries’ and contemplating the unedited footage from 2014 of my band the Grubby Mitts on our final tour, playing ten shows in ten days at artist-run spaces from Plymouth to Edinburgh. At the end of the tour the band split up, having first formed at school around the age of 13 and having played together for twenty years. Thinking about how all good rockumentaries were not really about the music, but about something else, I realised to make this tour film it should be about exploring what it means to be friends with someone. 

The final edit is really four films simultaneously, like comic book cells, all linked by the question of what is friendship? Screen one is an essay I wrote after the tour finished, when I thought about how crucial friendship was to creativity, and mourned the loss of the band and the dynamic of friendship it provided. It is narrated by me but using Charlie Brown as an avatar. It moves through the philosophy of friendship using illustrations from popular film, music and television. Screen two loosely illustrates the essay; an evocative collage of found footage that I watched growing up which helped form my understanding of what friendship is. Screen three is the music documentary using live recordings of The Grubby music performing on the final tour, as well as incidental moments and interviews with the band. It starts with a live version of our single ‘To a Friends House the Way is Never Long’ and finishes with the last single ‘Goodbye If You Call That Gone’.  Screen four is a shot in the bedroom of mutual friend of the band Amy, who created her own private museum dedicated to all things Peanuts.  This screen uses close-ups of the merchandise and comic strips in her museum that include aphorisms on friendship, to provide a commentary on the themes explored in the other three screens and explore how ideas of friendship are formed in childhood. 

All music The Grubby Mitts, from the album 'What the World Needs Now Is’ (Lost Toys Records 2015)