Exclusive: sneak preview of new film about cult Manchester buskers the Piccadilly Rats

Cult Manchester buskers the Piccadilly Rats are the stars of a new feature length documentary which maps the group’s unlikely rise to fame.

Produced by a Low Flying Geese and directed by Nathan Cunningham, Piccadilly Rats: Live in Moderation is about the Rats trying to get off the streets and have their moment in the limelight.

The documentary film, which chronicles the trials and tribulations of Manchester’s favourite street entertainers, celebrates the Rats’ Manchester resilience and grit, giving an insight into what life is like for them beyond their spot on Lever Street. It goes behind the scenes and features the band members in their own homes as well as out and about performing.

It will be even more poignant following the tragic passing of much-loved dancer Ray Boddington earlier this year.

“It covers all sorts of things that we’ve done,” singer Gaz Stanley told us. “Everything we seemed to do over the first few years seemed to go wrong. Every time we were in a parade it would p*** down […] then we were in another parade and Tommy falls off the wagon, fractures his eye socket, breaks his ribs and he ended up in hospital.” 

It ends on a high, with the band taking to the stage in the House Party Tent at Kendal Calling, a special moment which saw them play on the same bill as Noel Gallagher and Madness, thanks to Anthony Donnelly of Gio Goi, who is also a co-producer of the film.

The following year, the band went on to play the main stage at Parklife – another high point for them that is referenced in the closing credits of the film.

Work on the film started in January 2016 but, as director Nathan Cunningham spent more time with the band, he realised that what was intended to be a half-hour documentary had the potential to become a full-length feature.

A premiere was planned for The Printworks but the date was subsequently pushed back due to a lack of budget for post-production. Local cinemas HOME on First Street and Vue in The Printworks have since put in fresh offers to host a premiere of the film.

The film is now in its final editing stages, but before it can be released they need help finishing post-production.

They’ve already been down the crowdfunding route, having raised £1,000 to get the film started and are reluctant to ask for more.

So this time they are putting out a call to like-minded Manchester creatives to help them get the project over the finishing line. They are hoping that talented local creatives will offer their help with final touches like colour grading and sound engineering.

They’re looking for someone who likes the project and loves The Piccadilly Rats to come on board and be a part of it – and reckon that, once they find someone, it could be completed in a few weeks.

“It’s been three years in the making and we’ve been struggling to get it into post-production,” Nathan told us. “I have a director’s cut which is an hour and 45 minutes long and is the whole film in its entirety but without the whole narration [by Steve Evets].

Nathan Cunningham (L) and Gaz Stanley

“We’re trying to reach out to get some help from post-production companies to try and get a colour grade and sound correction and stuff like that. It just needs a polish.

“Whether it’s a post-production company or a capable freelancer that specialises in post-production, grading, sound correction, stuff like that, we just need some help to take it across the finish line so we can get it out there and share it with the world.”

It will then be premiered in cinemas across Manchester and the guys hope to host some additional screenings in bars across the city. Following that, the plan is to enter it into film festivals far and wide.

“That’s the plan, that’s the mission,” Nathan says. “And I’m pretty confident we can do it. Manchester’s a great city for creatives and they do support each other.”

Piccadilly Rats: Live in Moderation is co-produced by Greg at Lanor Productions, Anthony Donnelly of Gio Goi fame, and music promoter Mr Peeps. It features animation from Salford University students Adam Frith and James Lawson, and the song in the trailer is by Time for Action (Dermo from Northside new band).

If you think you can help the Piccadilly Rats get their documentary finished, please email Nathan Cunningham at [email protected]


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