The man behind a new film charting Birmingham’s historic achievements hopes it will inspire a new generation of city innovators.
‘More Canals than Venice’ is the brainchild of Birmingham-based film-maker Steve Rainbow, created in partnership with producer Blair Kesseler.
The feature-length documentary focuses on 100 interesting and amusing facts about the city, some of which might come as a surprise to many.
One of Birmingham’s most influential yet unsung heroes – Alexander Parkes – accounts for two of the facts in the film – for inventing both plastic and celluloid.
“There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t at some point in their life come into contact with plastic, sometimes in a life-saving way,” said Mr Rainbow.
“After Parkes had invented plastic he later developed celluloid, giving birth to the film industry, which therefore owes its existence to Birmingham. All this from one of the genius sons of the Second City.”
Other facts in the film include Birmingham being the place where the cavity magnetron was invented, a key component of radar and something found in every microwave oven, as well as it being the home of icons like the Spitfire and the original Mini.
Birmingham is also the place where tennis was invented, the location of the highest score in county cricket, and the place where the Football League was formed. Mr Rainbow said: “My first feature film called NFA was selected for the 2012 Edinburgh Film Festival.”
“When I talked to people while promoting the film and telling them how it was shot in Birmingham the usual response was ‘I know Birmingham, it’s got more canals than Venice’.
“Hearing it time and time again started to get on my nerves, so I challenged myself to make a film about Birmingham that said more than just inland waterway one-upmanship.”
On the canals question and whether it features prominently in the film, Mr Rainbow said: “As it happens there are 35 miles of canals in Birmingham and only 26 miles in Venice – but I’m sure everyone knows that already.”
He and Mr Kesseler embarked on a six-month period of research, amassing more than 150 facts about the city, before whittling it down to a list of 100.
‘More Canals than Venice’ is a not-for-profit venture and Mr Rainbow and Mr Kesseler are hoping to be able to send a copy to every school in the city and the wider region, if they can obtain funding to do so.
The film will enjoy a private VIP premier in Birmingham this week but the film-makers hope to see it reach a wider audience and welcome applications from venues or organisations wishing to show it.
Mr Rainbow is also hoping to secure a special screening in Birmingham on December 29 to mark the birth of Alexander Parkes, who was born in the city on that day in 1813.
The film-maker said he was extremely grateful for the enthusiastic support received a during the making of the film.
He added: “Every agency, company and organisation we approached were only too pleased to help and not only let me film in their premises but gave me access and permission to archive pictures, including Film Birmingham, Acme Whistles, The NEC Group, Birmingham City Council, Aston Villa Football Club, Brindleyplace, Birmingham Cathedral, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Birmingham Art Galleries and Museums and Aston Hall to name but a few.
“The icing on the cake came when the CBSO allowed me to use their recording of Elgar’s Enigma Variations to punctuate some of the film’s facts.”
For more details contact Mr Rainbow at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rainbowfilms.co.uk.