I'll be forever grateful The Steve Zacharanda Story made it on the Silver Screen
Posted on the 16th Jul 2015 in the category sport

I've always had two reoccurring daydreams, one is of being on Desert Island Disks and another is taking a documentary crew around Perry Barr, a la South Bank Show.

Well I lived the second one when Obama and Me: The Steve Zacharanda Story (which this week was posted on YouTube) was filmed in 2012. I was approached by Lee Kenny, an old colleague who along with Matthew Reynolds run Jolly Demon films, about making a documentary about my YouTube mini-stardom and consequences, and my attempt to get back to America to volunteer for Obama's re-election.

And so for a few months I had a film crew in tow, they came to work, filming me and asking my colleagues about me, interviewed me in pubs, filmed me speaking at Women's Institutes, came to the radio show, followed me as I promoted my book Obama and Me at various radio stations.

And they even took me to the tower block where me and the then blue haired mrs hid out when I was suspended from the Birmingham Mail on my return from America. From the start I made it clear I wanted no editorial input into the film-making process.

I did not want anyone to level a charge that it was some PR puff piece for me. I love the art form of documentary and did not want to meddle in the artistic process. Nothing annoys me more when someone asks to read a story I am writing before it is published, you don't ask a plumber to clean a U-bend in front of you before hiring him so who am I to tell the film-makers how to make their film.

What I could control though was where I wanted to be interviewed and I picked The Globe in Newtown (RIP) and what I wore, so I propped up the bar in my zipping sleeved jacket like a pro. 

It appears I was not the easiest subject to make a film on because of how chaotic and surprising my life was, they had to keep it simple and then I'd be talking about going down the Amazon to find pink dolphins or disappearing on some mad-cap adventure. I trusted Lee not to stitch me up and I reckoned I'm media-savvy enough to not say something career-ending on camera. Needless to say a lot of people thought I was mad, I can't think why.

So even when they offered me the chance to see the film first before the premiere at The Electric Cinema I said no, I would see it for the first time with everyone else in the audience on that memorable night in March 2013. So like that morning in 2008 I would be watching a film wondering what I would say next, but this time on a cinema screen.

And the premiere was fantastic. I was on the Adrian Goldberg Show on Radio WM that day and it felt like a real event. The Electric Cinema was an incredible venue, the oldest working independent cinema in Britain.

My heroes had appeared on that screen, Smethwick's Charlie Chaplin, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson, Richard Pryor and Clint Eastwood all appeared on that screen and now there I was, about 20 foot tall.

My first thought was how fat I looked, but then reminded myself the camera adds a shitload, and that I always thought I was better looking, but after a few seconds I liked what I saw. I especially liked the way I walked.

The shot following me into work looked great, you never get to see yourself walk in real life and I was delighted how I bowled into the Halesowen. Perhaps it helped that Birmingham rapper Jimmy Davies' This Is England was the backing track.

There were so many different people from different sections of my life at the premiere, both childhood and manhood. I wanted to take my mom as my date but she could not make it so that meant Chang, my old man, could come which meant a lot. There were friends from Boys Brigade, school, the Astro, the Crown, from journalism and other people I've picked up along the way.

And of course some stunningly beautiful women I had the hots for. The party was overwhelming, there were so many people to hear compliments from, everyone wanted a piece of me and I was happy to oblige.

But I loved popping in and out of conversations, old friends with old friends, new friends chatting away and best of all people who had never met but who were working out connections between themselves besides me.

Friend of the show and all round great guy Mark Taylor, who like so many of my old friends were on fire that night, told me I said: "This is like the wedding I've never had or will never have."

Jokes, filth and criminality were just some of the subjects I eavesdropped. I wished I could have split into ten to enjoy the various crowds.

I wish I could say I had loads of professional photos of the night but the fella whose job it was did not excel himself and then reckoned that night the Australian Secret Service burgled his hotel room and his kit, with my pictures on.

Not after he got rather intense in the Tap and Spile and rammed his head into mine and in a sweaty clench told me: "I love you like a heart attack." I can't knock him though because my favourite sentence of the night was about him when Matt, a friend from work, said: "Is he nuts? He just had a conversation with me only using lines from Highlander.”

Perhaps I am bias but the film is fantastic. From the first shot revealing me talking to an audience of pensioners to the tale about me having to keep a dog happy to keep a roof over my head, or me explaining about “good cut and pasting” the whole cinema was laughing. As well as relief I was delighted my one liners and gags made everyone laugh.

So many people, both media professionals and not, said it was brilliant and it was a sure fire winner. People said I'd be a star, I should have my own series and the film should be seen by millions.

As it was the film was not accepted by that year's Sheffield Documentary Festival and more surprisingly Birmingham's very own Flatpack Film Festival the year after, which was a bummer because I could have filled another cinema with the people who I could not invite to the premiere. But that decision led me to set up the Perry Barr Film and Music Festival.

So now it is on YouTube for everyone to see, well a shorter version than before. I think it captures me well, whether people think I'm a nob or not then that is a matter for them. And as I said from the start I am delighted it was made, it is a record of a part of my life which I'll be able look back in years to come and smile.

And how many other people can say they had a premiere of a film about them, but I bet no other film star arrived on the red carpet using someone else's daysaver and ended up in bed alone except for a kebab.

So take a look, you'll be one of millions, with any luck.



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