Metaphorical fivers & the Stupid rash 14/6/2009

Hello from a pleasant Sunday in Camden Town,

But fear not, there is no sitting round in the sun drinking beer going on here at Stupid Towers. Leo is scanning press articles (bitching at the Guardian for being the only paper which doesn't fit into his A3 scanner). David is editing a heart-breaking deleted scene for the DVD of Fernand the mountain guide planting trees to hide the motorway. Andy is battling with hard-drives, as ever. Jonathan just popped in to drop off a new animation for the DVD menus. Daniel is trying to find an old 747 jumbo we can recycle (no really). Tom is extremely excited because our website just received it's millionth hit and has now been visited by 200,000 separate people (what would a non-separate person be? Do Siamese twins get their own category in the world of web stats?). I'm putting off writing our epic campaign strategy document - which has to be sent off tomorrow morning - by writing this newsletter. And Lizzie would no doubt be toiling away on the Global Premiere if she wasn't on a train back from Milan, where she's been talking about Indie Screenings to 300 European film producers. They were all thrusting metaphorical used fivers at her, trying to snap up the rights to our software, which is fast becoming a film distribution phenomenon: 335 screenings booked since May 1st and not a middleman with bulging pockets in sight. Oh yeah.

We went on a hiring-new-staff binge last week. A few people came in for interviews for the short-straw post (my PA) and we ended up hiring a bunch of them for all sorts of different things: Ben Hecking is our new Indie Screenings Tzar, adding films, sorting out problems & generally stoking the revolution. Jahlia Osha is NGO Coordinator, attempting to forge friendships with more than 500 climate groups worldwide. (The poor thing was off to Brussels & Amsterdam at 5am for back-to-back meetings within 12 hours of coming for the not-even-that-job interview - see her blog - and has just texted me from Lenzen, Germany, where she's arrived at the Friends of the Earth International shinding after a 26 hour journey (two trains, three buses)). Then there's Greg McKneally, the 3D wizard who made The Archive that Pete lives in in the film, is now Website Manager and has just introduced the radical concept of deadlines to our webboys. My old mucker from McSpotlight days, Robin Houston, is onboard to make a database capable of signing up 1000 people every minute (Why? Tell you soon.) And Lizzie's old mucker from school days, Andrew "Brick", is now Head of Finance. We've been struggling for the last few months to keep our heads round the ever-more-complicated financial deals. But we've admitted defeat now we're going international and the concept of Australian Withholding Tax has been introduced. We knew Andrew was our man when he said that he and his pals like nothing more than a discussion of exchange rates down the pub of an evening. And he's the missing centre back for our football team too.

But who got the PA job, you ask? George Winward, one of our hardy volunteers, pulled the short straw, as she looked like she might be able to put up with me. Best of luck George. See most of the new recruits on the rather lovely newly updated Team Stupid page.

If someone you know still hasn't seen the film, there's loads of screenings happening all over the country every day. You MUST check out Nick's unbelievable map.... then zoom in a little.... look at all the flags.... it's a Stupid rash spreading all over the country. There are screenings booked in almost every day till the end of September - and then some as late as May next year.... Just today there are four screenings in Totnes, Wareham (must tell Granny), London and Colchester.... and tomorrow there's another six in London (three separate locations) Wareham, Aylesburg, Sudbury.... It's enough to bring a tear to the eye.

Any really obsessive fans out there might like to consider setting up a Google Alert for "Age of Stupid". You get a daily heads-up of the weirdest Stupid-related web things. Like this: John Prescott speaking about Stupid before a screening to the Council Of Europe. Or this BBC interview with Ed Miliband and me "in furious agreement" at Hay Festival which I only have the vaguest recollection of doing (why are they saying it's like The Office?!? Which one of us is David Brent?!?). Or somebody's home movie of the premiere in Leicester Square.

Daniel and Katie are off to Copenhagen this week, to case the joint before the all-important UN climate summit in December. They'll be plotting with the Climate Justice Action network, organising a summit-meet with all the Danish NGOs, and, funnily enough, screening Stupid. Speaking of which, great news just in: a big Danish film festival has already booked a big public square to screen films for free throughout the summit. Can they screen Stupid? Absofuckinglutely they can.

Another spin-off of the whole owning-the-rights-to-your-film thing is that we're able to make cracking deals with big institutions. The NHS is the first to sign up - and are now offering free screenings to all NHS staff & students. Following hot on their heels are the British Council, World Health Organisation, Environment Agency and Transport For London. If poor Ben can get his head round all the spirallingly complex terms&conditions, that is.

Oh yeah, you know we said we couldn't enter the Oscars because of some little smalltype rule to do with when the DVD comes out? Well, the rule got dumped and we may yet sneak in. Not that we have a hope in hell of winning, I hasten to add, but even getting onto the longlist - it goes longlist, shortlist, nominations, winner - would massively increase the film's profile. Going to have to save up for the entry fee though.

Massive kudos to our UK distributors, Dogwoof, who have another hit on their hands with fishing film The End of the Line, which has already managed to get endangered tuna off the menu at Pret. (Have to admit I've not actually made it to a cinema yet. Kind-of thinking that as I've not eaten fish since I was 11, this is one issue I don't need to feel bad about.)

But most exciting of all is... well, we can't say just yet. But we are going to be seriously in need of everybody's help on July 6th.... this one is going to dwarf all former plans... Please make sure you have a good rest on the weekend of 4/5 July...

Over to Leo, below, for the latest climate news good & bad.

See you

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Word up Stupideers,

Bringing you the top news stories from Stupid Towers on the climate action scene...


The latest round of UN talks in Bonn has brought us no closer to an agreement at Copenhagen, and the outlook for a science-based policy outcome from that meeting is looking bleaker than ever. As the UN’s climate chief Yvo de Boer put it, "I don't think in Copenhagen we're going to get an agreement on an 80-percent global emission reduction [by 2050] and I think that, at the end of day, is what we need."

Japan also disappointed everyone with the much-anticipated unveiling of their own policy position – a less than half-hearted 8% cut in emissions by 2020. Given that a recent poll showed that nearly two thirds of the Japanese public want a commitment to at least 25% cuts by 2020, this is unforgiveably weak, and can only serve to worsen the chances of a strong deal at Copenhagen.

Peru's government has been massacring indigenous protestors who are are unhappy about plans to chuck them out of their forest homes so that the virgin rainforest land can be logged, mined and drilled for oil and gas by multinationals. See for more on this horrible story as it unfolds.


The Scottish Parliament are finalising the details of their own Climate Bill at the end of this month, which is already actually quite good, though still a long way from perfect. If you’re up that way, then get involved with the mass lobby of the Scottish Parliament on June 24th, organised by Stop Climate Chaos. A Bill that beats the English version should be a matter of nation pride, frankly. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough?

China has announced a suitably ambitious target of at least 18% - and hopefully 20% renewable energy by 2020. China is actually building one wind turbine every two hours now, amazingly - in your face, all you blame-China excuse-makers. That's the kind of decisive government action you can get when you're running a dictatorship.

Shell have paid out over $15 million to the family of Ken Saro-Wiwa, to keep the allegations that they colluded in his murder from being discussed in a
high-profile court case in New York. Closer to home, Shell's assault on the tiny Irish village of Rossport continues, with the imminent arrival of their dredging ship, the Solitaire, back in coastal waters to begin construction of the planned gas pipeline. If you fancy popping down to help out with the campaign to stop them, book yourself
in for a holidarity now. (NB. holidarity = a holiday in solidarity).

If you're heading to Glastonbury, then why not pitch up with the good folks of the Climate Camp, who this year have their own super-active-grass-roots camping space, in the Dragon Field between the Stone Circle and Shangri-La, which will be jam packed with all manner of radical climate fun. Stupid is also screening, in the top slot at the main cinema on Sunday evening. I'll be speaking afterwards, but mainly in a Samaritan-style role, as I attempt to encourage the comedown-stricken audience not to go and top themselves after watching the film.

Oxfam's Adopt a Negotiator kicked off properly at Bonn, with loads of fantastic blogs following the negotiators' every move.

The 4th of July sees a monster collaboration between shed-loads of Britain's top NGOs, who aim to form a 'Mili-band' (a ring of a thousand people, geddit?) linking arms around Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent. The aim is to send a powerful message to Ed Miliband, the UK's Climate and Energy Secretary, who has repeatedly called for a popular grassroots mobilisation on climate change, yet is still insisting on ploughing ahead with his wacky scheme to build a load of new coal power stations. He's probably just doing it to provoke us into action, so let's not disappoint the fellow - see you at the Mili-Band on July 4th.

Children are the most marginalised voices in the entire geo-political discourse on climate change. As environmentalist Paul Hawken recently put it in a truly inspirational speech, “We have an economy where we steal the future, sell it in the present, and call it GDP". Kids don't get a say in all this of course (it's their future we're flogging), which is why Footprint Friends have started their 'Million feet' campaign to get children's voices heard at Copenhagen. Check it out with your kids here.

We all need to be able to laugh in the face of catastrophic environmental and social collapse once in a while, so I'll sign off with two cracking vids from two new climate campaigns: Marcus Brigstocke spoofs MTV's cribs, and we find out why the battle between train and plane travel in the UK is not a fair fight.


PS. Please send me any climate content for this mailing list at


Franny Armstrong


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