A Coffee Films Production

A Coffee Films production
Televisual Man

©1996/2004 A Coffee Films production
Directed and produced by Steve Piper
Featuring Dave Smith and the music composition Creeping Emptiness Over The Street, written and performed by Amir Baghiri, ©2000 Amir Baghiri
Thanks to John O'Reilly, Dad Smith, Dad Piper, Lee Nightingale, Dad Nightingale, Jon Driscoll and all at Pinelodge. Shot entirely on location in Sittingbourne, England.

Poster design for the film
Poster design for Televisual Man


17.12.2004, City Screen York Screening, UK
27.01.2005, University of York Screening, UK
19.03.2005, Nanook Screening, UK
19.03.2005, ATV Screening, UK
12.05.2005, Final Cut at the Brighton Festival, UK
18.05.2005, ATV Screening, UK
22.05.2005, ATV Screening, UK
18.06.2005, The Overkill Film Festival, Holland
17-28.08.2005 Film UK, Edinburgh International Film Festival, UK
20.08.2005 Portobello Film and Video Festival, UK
26.10.2005 Portobello Film Festival Video Cafe, Experimental film selection, UK
30.11.2005 Portobello Film Festival Video Cafe, Best UK shorts selection, UK
04.12.2005 Unscreen Screenings, UK
From 12.01.2006 Propeller TV, Sky Channel 289, UK
26.08.2006 Aeon Expo, Devon, UK (screened twice)
27.08.2006 Aeon Expo, Devon, UK (screened twice)
11.3.2007 Digifest, Folkestone, UK
23.4.2007 Capsula Orwell, Barcelona, Spain
22.5.2007 Cannes in a Van, Cannes Film Festival, France
6.10.2007 AZA Digital Cinema Festival, Greece
23.08.2008 Aeon Expo, Devon, UK (screened twice)
24.08.2008 Aeon Expo, Devon, UK (screened twice)


"The most compelling thing about Televisual Man is that it uses the visual medium in order to indict the ways in which the visual medium can be misused. It can be over-used to play Big Brother on the public... it can be used to relay important information to a large number of people; but it can also become an addictive source of mindless crap that people spend far too much time in front of, causing them to live in the fantasy world of television. And our society's obsession with reality TV has made this problem even worse. This film uses a very simple format to get its point across, and does it in a very visually interesting way, 8.8/10"
Microfilmmaker Magazine (read the full review here).

"Britain has the largest number of public CCTV cameras per head of population in the world. This thought-provoking experimental drama explores the social and political impact of 24-hour surveillance on a nation already softened-up for intrusive observation by pseudo-reality TV shows such as C4's Big Brother."
Final Cut

"... a straight forward and satisfying experiment in atmospheric horror and abstract suggestions of our modern world... it portrays our increasingly media infiltrated lifestyles, and its ongoing effects on our psychologies as a long, sterile look into an infinite dead space of post-modern simulation. Televisual Man's distinct power lies in its score, which feels like a drowning wave of invisible digital energy that slowly submerges us in an empty future..."
Montage Film Reviews

Viral advertising image for the film
A promotional image used online

Director's Notes

One day all those years ago 3 teenagers (myself, John O'Reilly and Lee Nightingale) shot a short film on Lee's Dad's camcorder about a guy being sucked into his TV set and not being able to get out. As was proper it featured the classic time tunnel video camera/TV loop (plug your camera into the TV, film the screen, groovy effect ensues) and a shot of John with his nose squished against a pane of glass as though he was stuck behind the TV screen, boy were we sharp. For some reason this experience inspired me to become a film director, and a year or so later I expanded the idea out into a 4 minute short with some dark and vaguely Orwellian overtones in place of the comedy.

I got together with Dave Smith, his Dad's S-VHS camera and my Dad's house and shot the whole thing over a few hours, editing as we went along in camera, and filming one section of it off of a TV screen; hence I was able to keep the time tunnel loop albeit in a slightly altered manner (hey, when you only know one special effect you give it as much mileage as possible). Shortly after finishing it the same John O'Reilly popped round and put on a music tape (remember those?), claiming he had a tune that was perfect, the piece was Lou Reed's Perfect Day and somewhat bizarrely it did fit, absolutely perfectly, freakishly so in fact. O'Reilly landed himself the credit of "flukey sound concept", and we called the production company Mr. Spambapstic films ("spam" for me, "bap" for Dave, long stories...).

Everyone thought the film was OK and it started us off on a series of experimental shorts and documentaries that resulted in the entire Coffee project. Unfortunately, perfect though the music seemed it prevented us from ever screening it publicly, so the film wallowed in our archives gathering dust and losing increasing amounts of resolution and quality with moronic transfers to VHS, then Hi-8, then eventually a sensible one to DV.

Wanting a short I could get onto the festival circuit quickly I decided to shoot the film again in my new place which had much more space. Myself and Dave were joined by Jon Driscoll and reshot it all over two days, adding in some flashy new shots and trying to give it a bit more meaning. When I came to editing I just didn't like it much; there was still no genius message to behold and the wonderfully composed and clean shots just had none of the charm of the original, so it was back to the dusty archives for the Televisual Man.

After How To Disappear Completely came out at festivals in spring 2004 we started to get an increased amount of interest from web broadcasters wanting to screen our stuff. Web screening will exclude your film from most festivals so our recent and fully licenced shorts were no good to us, then I remembered Televisual Man. Considering everything the film had led to it really hadn't had much glory, a web release was perfect for it.

Watching the film again for the first time in 5 years I noticed you could have made an argument for it as some kind of arty prophecy of reality TV, then I realised that was really a load of arse and just appreciated it for what it was; a pretty decent first effort for completely clueless amateurs, and even though the Televisual Man now looked more to me like the Televisual Boy I was still as happy with it as I was when we first made it.

The music was still a problem; web licencing is extortionate. I spoke to my good friend Amir Baghiri about using one of his tracks and as ever he was more than up for it. I picked out the track Creeping Emptiness Over The Street, thinking it might add a bit of a creepy vibe; as soon as it was played with the picture up I realised I'd lucked onto a truly gorgeous combination, the music completely changing the tone to something very dark and menacing, the only drawback was that it was paced very differently.

After all the transfers the image needed some kind of cleaning up anyway so I put everything into Premiere, tweaked the picture contrasts to get the blacks back to black from murky grey, and to fit everything with the music I inserted a couple of fades and made liberal use of slow motion; with many of the shots being static or focused on static things it held up well.

The end result was pretty acceptable, the image had taken on a weird and rather cool quality, almost like 8mm but incredibly "televisual", again luckily due to the combination of the worst format transfers in the world, filming off a TV screen, and then boosting all the contrasts and Amir's amazing music fitted the dark moody pictures to perfection.

Televisual Man finally premiered to the public on the Internet on the 4th August 2004 on, I sincerely hope it will inspire plenty of other people with no idea what they're doing to go out and have a pop at it, and my conscience is finally clear for giving the little bugger the credit it deserves.

Steve Piper


Televisual man production still

Indie short film production still

Coffee Films' Televisual Man

Televisual Man screen shot