I Am Weekender [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - British Film Institute
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (6th August 2023).
The Film

"I Am Weekender" (2023)

On August 26th, 1991, the British band Flowered Up released their highly anticipated debut album "A Life with Brian", a dance-rock album that touched on the acid house movement and the Madchester craze. While the album and their first few singles charted, none of them were particular shakers that made it close to the top 10 or the "next big thing" that the music press was hyping them as. But in April of 1992, the band went against convention by releasing "Weekender" as a single - a thirteen minute experimental track that was accompanied by a full music video for the entire track and directed by up and coming music video director WIZ. Though not a widely seen video in full due to its content and length, it became an underground cult hit and an inspiration for musicians and filmmakers for years to come. "I Am Weekender" is a documentary that looks at the making of the clip, the band, and how it became much more than a standard music video through interviews with the band members, other musicians, actors and filmmakers and their stories to tell.

While this release is labeled and marketed with "I Am Weekender" as the title with the "Weekender" short film / music video included as an extra, it easily could have been the other way around, with "Weekender" being the main attraction and the documentary as a supplement. Regardless of labeling, the order it should be watched is obviously the short first and the documentary on it afterwards. From the opening moments of "Weekender" with the rolling of marijuana hidden away in cigarettes, it was clear that this was not something to be broadcast on MTV or other networks. The first shot of the main character of "Little Joe" (played by Lee Whitlock) is an overhead shot of his face, and zoomed out it shows he is lying ion a window cleaning cradle high above the city. Apparently Whitlock was frightened doing this shot, and his left hand can be seen gripping the cradle very tightly. The short follows the character of Joe as he leads a fairly insignificant life as a cleaner and at his home with his folks, but it is the nightlife where his highs come into play. With the visuals changing from reality to psychedelia through the character's drug use, director WIZ uses plenty of visual trickery from changing of camera speeds, overlapping visuals, rear projection, and more as the night continues on. There are also glimpses of the secondary character of the cashier (played by Anna Haigh who becomes the "E Queen" with her foray into the night of clubbing and her encounter with Little Joe. In addition to the characters, the bandmembers of Flowered Up (Liam Maher, Joe Maher, Tim Dorney, Mick Leader, John Tuvey, and Barry Mooncult) all make cameo appearances in the short along with friends and family members. Notably in the record store sequence, the owner and DJ Roy the Roach Marsh makes an appearance, as well as Ashley Beedle. Without any dialogue to move the narrative forward, the highs and lows of the wild and crazy night of clubbing and drug taking have the characters end up in a never-ending cycle, where there is no escape from reality and the night comes to a close to reveal a new morning. The short itself doesn't shy away from the issue of the positive effects of drugs, with the energy and the fun with the characters. But it also doesn't keep things on the positive end as it also shows the negative ends of drug addiction and effects it has on family and society. Messages are more implied than being preachy, and the thought-provoking nature is one that is much more than a glamorous showcase of a band on camera performing blandly like many other standard promotional music videos.

WIZ has stated that he immediately saw the story unfold in his head while he was listening to the song, and the ambition that came with the work was a risk for the band's record label Heavenly Recordings, as it was not the most commercially viable. While the band was heavily hyped in British music magazines such as NME and Melody Maker even before they even released their first single, their album and singles did not make the impact that the publications predicted. To have the band's fourth single be a 13-minute track without editing and have an accompanying video at an even longer length due to the opening and the credits (which has an excerpt of a remixed version by Andrew Weatherall played), and having controversial subject matter depicted, none of the elements made commercial sense. "Weekender" was given small theatrical screenings in 1992, but as for broadcast it was banned by the BBC and ITV, while MTV broadcast it in a very shortened and edited form. It was also shown in Levi's stores which caused a stir due to the subject matter. The most watched method was by VHS, which was officially released on the home video format by Heavenly Recordings and Sony Music in the United Kingdom. The video circulated in both official and bootleg forms and became an underground cult hit. It had an impact on other musicians and filmmakers, and it truly became an inspiration for novelist Irvine Welsh, as his 1993 novel and its 1996 film adaptation "Trainspotting" would not have been the same without "Weekender".

Unfortunately the music world was not a prosperous place for Flowered Up. Though they were hot off the heels of fellow acid house/baggy bands The Stone Roses, EMF, "The Charlatans" and Happy Mondays with their mix of indie rock and electronic/dance elements, but the movement was short lived. Their album and singles were not major hits. Their cover of "Don't Talk Just Kiss" for a covers EP of Right Said Fred only made it to 26 on the UK charts and their 1994 single "Better Life" didn't chart at all. Alternative rock and Britpop were taking control of the rock charts and there was also internal turmoil within the band with drug use and unproductive sessions. They only released one album before their split. The baggy genre came and went quite quickly, though there were a few bands such as Manbreak and The Space Monkeys in the late 90s that carried the sound with little success. Tim Dorney found success with his follow-up band Republica with their worldwide hit "Ready to Go". While there were rumors of a reunion in 2007, things didn't come to terms and a planned tour was cancelled. The Maher brothers struggled with drug addiction, and tragically Liam Maher passed away in October 2009 from a heroin overdoes and Joe Maher passed away on November 2012 from health issues.

Fast-forwarding to 2020, famed music producer Andrew Weatherall, who worked on two B-side remixes for Flowered Up's "Weekender", passed away on February 17th. At the funeral, WIZ reconnected with Canadian born London based artist and musician Chloé Raunet. Raunet first worked with WIZ on a music video more than two decades earlier and was introduced to the music video of "Weekender" through a VHS copy from the director. During the COVID-19 lockdown, WIZ and Raunet worked on a project to celebrate the anniversary of "Weekender", and that would be through interviews with the surviving band members, the actors, and also other musicians and artists from the era and ones that were influenced by it. "I Am Weekender" is an in-depth look at the music video/short film through the many sessions of online remote interviews with actors Lee Whitlock and Anna Pugh, musicians such as Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays & Black Grape, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, and Róisín Murphy of Moloko, Flowered Up's former manager Des Penney, filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, novelist Irvine Welsh and many more.

As the interviews were conducted remotely due to the lockdown, the visuals and audio were mismatching, which led to Raunet deciding to manipulate the colors and contrast of the interview recordings to keep things consistent for the documentary. In addition, the most fascinating portion is the previously unseen outtakes and rushes of "Weekender" that WIZ had in his personal archive. Transferring the 16mm footage and seeing slates, behind the scenes activity, and tests are shown for the first time ever for a new glimpse into the making of the short. Raunet, whose mother had experience in documentary filmmaking in Canada, was given the task to piece together documentary. As she didn't have knowledge of digital editing, she learned the process from editor Mark Hopkinson who helped with the project. "I Am Weekender" shows one band's quick rise and fall that mirrors the highs and the crash to the bottom with drug use, that blurred the lines between fiction and reality in a wonderful retrospective way. Yes, the interviews have their weakness in presentation due to the remote conditions that the world has somewhat gotten used to in the last few years, and it is also another time capsule of seeing how people were able to communicate and create during a time that the world couldn't meet face to face. Released twenty-one years after "Weekender", "I Am Weekender" received high praise and placed newfound interest in the band, the era, and the music video for a new generation.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray


The BFI presents the documentary in a varying 1.78:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. As it is comprised of footage from the short, outtakes and behind the scenes from the short from WIZ's archive, and remotely conducted interviews via Zoom, the image quality does jump from source to source. For the Zoom interviews Raunet decided to boost the contrast and give a pale look to the conducted Zoom interviews, which is slightly jarring, as they look like an uncalibrated monitor that is having difficulty with the source video. The distortion, which Raunet discusses in her interview found on the disc in the extras is not particularly the best example of Blu-ray quality, though in defense it was a way to make the interviews look consistent, as one has most likely experienced, Zoom interviews can look quite different from place to place. In addition, the aspect ratio of the interviews might be horizontal or vertical depending on the interviewee, and they are not always centered in the middle of the frame. As for the footage from the short and the archival materials, the 16mm original negative was scanned and restored in 2K resolution and pillarboxed in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The footage looks excellent to say the least, with great colors and very little damage to be seen as the footage has been kept in excellent condition. Considering that a large number of music videos shot on film have not been given proper restorations in the digital age (with either the original film materials being lost or the original film materials being transferred to SD video for editing and completion), it's quite an eye-opener to see how excellent the image looks for the clip, let alone the rushes and outtakes. The presentation may have its pros and cons, though the intended look seems to be captured well here on this BFI Blu-ray.

The documentary's runtime is 56:01.


English LPCM 2.0 stereo
The stereo audio track is fair, but that is again due to the origins. The background music including Flowered Up's "Weekender" play wonderfully with stereo separation and being well balanced, though the dialogue has its drawbacks as some of the Zoom interview audio recordings have expected issues with noise, echo, and digital filtering. While the voices are overall balanced, there are some problematic portions, but thankfully not too jarring.

There are optional English HoH subtitles in a white font for the documentary which are well timed and easy to read.


"Weekender" 1992 short film (with optional commentary by director WIZ) (19:19)>
The original long form music video is presented here, fully remastered from the original film materials for this release. The original camera negative was scanned and remastered in 2K resolution and the results are excellent. Colors are bold with emphasis on cool tones and dark hues, there is excellent sharpness throughout and damage marks are basically non-existent in the remastered picture. The sound is also excellent, with the music presented in uncompressed stereo. There are also some additional restoration credits at the end of the music video, which has excepts of the Andrew Weatherall remix of the song. There is an optional commentary by WIZ which was newly recorded, as he discusses about the making of the short, being at the right place at the right time, the metaphors in the visuals, the importance of narrative over style, capturing the acid house movement of the period, and more. The commentary is in Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles. The "unremastered" version of the music video has been embedded below.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English LPCM 2.0 without subtitles

"Rushes Revisited" unseen rushes and unheard isolated tracks (9:14)
Presented here are stills of storyboards with descriptions from "Weekender" of the record shop scene and the bathroom mirror sequence, plus stills of the dancing children sequence and additional rushes from the shoot. The footage is in very good condition with little to no damage marks at all, with great color and detail as it is transferred from the original film materials. The music track in the background is also fascinating, as it is a deconstruction of the original song by isolating instruments and vocals as well as showcasing some unheard portions in the final mix.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, Music Dolby Digital 2.0

Music Videos
Collected are the following four music videos, which are only playable individually.

"Take It" by Flowered Up (3:52)
Flowered Up's third single "Take It" was released in 1991 and was promoted with a music video directed by WIZ. Here the band is seen performing for a black queen ((played by Linda Small) in a staged location, and was the band's first collaboration with WIZ.
in 1080i60 AVC MPEG-4, in 1.66:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Phobia" by Flowered Up (3:46)
"Phobia" was Flowered Up's second single which was released in 1990, and the promo was directed by Paul Cannell. Shot on videotape and black and white showing the band performing the song, the image is overlayed with hand drawn colored graphics and lettering by Cannell, who was famous for designing the Heavenly Recordings bird logo and Primal Scream's "Screamadelica" sun logo.
in 1080i60 AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"It's On" by Flowered Up (2:26)
Flowered Up's first single from 1990 received a promo directed by Pinki which had the band performing in front of a small audience in an industrial location. The image has contrast boosted colors with blue hues being prominent.
in 1080i60 AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Raise" by Bocca Juniors (3:34)
The short lived Bocca Juniors only released two singles during their time together, and this is the promo video for their first, "Raise" from 1990. Comprised of DJs Andrew Weatherall, Terry Farley, Pete Heller, and Hugo Nicolson with vocals from Anna Haigh, the black and white short directed by Wiz has quite a few connections to "Weekender" with its collaborators.
in 1080i60 AVC MPEG-4, in 1.66:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Nish" 1990 short film by WIZ (4:20)
Presented here is a black and white short shot on Super 8 film by Wiz, filmed at a Boy’s Own party in the summer of 1990. The menu states 1989 though the end credits state 1990.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, Music Dolby Digital 2.0

"Turn It Up!" interview with Chloé Raunet (27:25)
This new interview with Raunet has her discussing about her life and career, from her early days in Canada, moving to England as an adult, getting into the music scene, meeting WIZ and being cast for a music video, her first recollection of watching "Weekender" through a VHS, reconnecting with WIZ at Weatherhall’s funeral, the process of editing and directing the interviews, the difficulties and more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Image Gallery (3:20)
An automated silent slideshow featuring behind the scenes stills from “Weekender”, promotional stills of Flowered Up, and more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4

A 32 page booklet is included in the first pressing. First is the essay "Weekender" by journalist and author Miranda Sawyer. Next is "Whatever you do, just make sure what you do makes you happy" by WIZ. This is followed with "Roots" by Des Penney, the co-writer of Weekender and former manager of Flowered Up. Next is "Old School, Baby: Chloé Raunet" by author Dr. Adelle Stripe. There are also full film credits for the documentary, special features information, presentation information, acknowledgements, and stills.

Other notable clips:

A Q&A with Raunet and WIZ at the BFI Southbank in 2023.

A shortened version of "Weekender" edited for MTV broadcast.

A review of "Weekender" on VIDEO-VIEW, ITV from 1992, from WIZ's Vimeo channel featuring interviews with Liam Maher and Tim Dorney. (The clip is not available for embedding and has only been linked here.)


"Weekender" is one of the more fascinating music clips of the 1990s with its content and its length, and "I Am Weekender" is a great documentary that looks into the making, its legacy, and tragedy with open arms. It may not have the best looking or sounding presentation, but that is obviously all due to the remote interviews for the project. The BFI's Blu-ray is great with including both the documentary and the original short in remastered form plus a good amount of extras. Highly recommended.

The Film: A- Video: B Audio: B Extras: A Overall: A-


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