Film makers set to release documentary on demise of the British pub

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Fantastic result: film makers hope to inspire people to help support their local pubs
Fantastic result: film makers hope to inspire people to help support their local pubs

Related tags Cheap supermarket booze British pub Film director

Documentary film makers have said they hope their film Ripping Out The Bar, which focuses on the demise of the British pub and took four years to make, will "inspire a few more people to support their local".

The documentary, made by amateur filmmakers Jon Yeomans, business writer and news editor at The Daily Telegraph​, and Sukhpah Sahota, television producer at Maverick TV, looks at the social and economic forces that are “battering” the pub industry and finds out why so many publicans are finding it “hard to survive”.

The documentary also follows the story of a group of locals in Hackney, east London, who are determined to save their neighbourhood pub.

Pub brainstorming

“We started out making the film in 2013 because we were interested in the idea of making a documentary, and we thought few people had gone behind the scenes of a pub,” said Yeomans.

“And yes, we did come up with the idea in a pub. 

“We then discovered, of course, that pub numbers were dropping and started asking questions about that.”

Happy outcome

The pair were led to a group of campaigners who were fighting to save their pubs – and, in particular, followed the campaign to save the Chesham Arms in Hackney.

“Over the course of two years, we followed the case but we had no idea there would be a happy outcome – the pub reopened and is now thriving. That gave us the structure for the film,” continued Yeomans.

“Naturally, we also looked into the reasons why pubs are struggling – from taxes and cheap supermarket booze to the smoking ban and the controversy around pubcos.

“We know these issues raise a lot of passion in the trade but we wanted to be as impartial as possible. We wanted to explain the situation to a layman who may not have given much thought to how pubs are run. That was really the audience we had in mind."

Big undertaking

Yeomans continued: “It turned out to be a very big undertaking and took a lot longer to finish than we ever expected.

“If we'd known all that, we probably wouldn't have started it.

“But, as so many people kindly gave up their time to talk to us, we felt a responsibility to get it finished." 

The film, described as “very low budget”, was shot by the pair in their free time, and took more than one year to edit.

Inspiring message 

“It's not going to make our fortune, but it was a project that interested us, and we have the satisfaction of having finished it,” continued Yeomans.

“If the documentary inspires a few more people to support their local pub, or even campaign to keep it open, that would be a fantastic result. 

“If there's a message in the film, it's that these are important spaces for people to meet and be part of a community, and if we lose them it will be a great, great shame.”

The film makers will be holding screenings of the documentary, and has entered it into film festivals. They plan to release the whole film online at the end of the year. 

Ripping Out The Bar​ will be shown at 2pm on 23 September at the Hackney Archives, Dalston, London.

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