Weekender Manoeuvres: Director Chloé Raunet on WIZ & Flowered Up’s seminal short film

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Art & Culture
Written by Tim Murray

As a new documentary looking at Flowered Up’s seminal Weekender short film premieres, director Chloé Raunet talks about attempting to give some order to the story of London’s chaotic rave scenesters…

If Flowered Up were London’s very own in-house Acid House band, a Dickensian collection of chancers whose legend preceded them and who captured the mood, spirit and ethos of the capital’s Balearic shenanigans, then Weekender, the short film spawned from their sprawling 12 minute plus song of the same name, is Acid House’s Citizen Kane.

Before Human Traffic, and scores of other homegrown direct to video Brit films tried to shine a light on the acid house and rave malarkey, Flowered Up, with the ever-insightful assistance of record label Heavenly and director Wiz, had got there first, chronicling a night in the capital in the early 1990s.


The film – calling it a pop video or promo doesn’t nearly do it justice – became seminal; the VHS release of the film, pre-Internet, was a must-watch post-club – sling off the fractals video or MTV late night chill out programming, let’s carry on the party. Part of its beauty is that it can be all things to all people – a celebration of a night well spent, a comment on the fleeting moments and even shallowness of the clubbing experience – you decide.

It was a fitting near-epitaph and swan song for the band – there was one further posthumous seven inch single – one whose history has been oft told (and recounted wonderfully in the Heavenly book, Believe In Magic, which charts not just their ill-fated flirtation with London Records between stints at Heavenly, as well as many of their exploits, including THAT party in south east London)

Flowered Up’s Weekender marked its 30th anniversary last year with a remastered vinyl release both of the original and Andrew Weatherall’s brace of sprawling re-dos of the track. A Blu-ray of the film was planned, but, in typical Heavenly style, the project grew into something completely different.

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So welcome then, to I Am Weekender, a feature length documentary charting the making of the song and film, with contemporary interviews with key player. It features outtakes and elements from the rushes from director Wiz, the acclaimed filmmaker who has worked with a string of both credible and big names in a career that spans four decades.

It’s directed by Chloé Raunet, formerly of Battant, and more recently recording artist under the C.A.R. moniker.

And, as you’d expect given his involvement in helping break Flowered Up (Boy’s Own was the first magazine to feature them at his behest, even if, as it acknowledged at the time “you haven’t heard them, I haven’t heard them, but something tells me we need them”), Andrew Weatherall had a hand in it, even after his passing, his spectre looming large over the proceedings.

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“I worked with Wiz in the early 2000s,” says Raunet, sitting, aptly, in the Social bar owned by Heavenly, “he cast me for a music film and our paths had sort of crossed over the year. We reconnected at Andrew’s funeral.

“During lockdown I was struggling with music, I wasn’t able to write that much, and we were chatting quite a bit and he involved me – he did a couple of videos, one for the Sons Of Raphael, one for Will Young and he got me doing behind the scenes filming on it. And at the same time this project with Heavenly was bubbling under the surface.”

A bunch of interviews had been put together by Heavenly associates Tabitha Denholm and Adam Dunlop via Zoom, ready for the Blu-ray release, but as the cast list grew – former band members, Heavenly founder Jeff Barrett and more among them – the idea it could turn into a more fully-formed project grew.

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“Wiz had showed it to me and asked what I thought, I said ‘it’s interesting content but why aren’t you using all the archive material, you’ve got literally got a string of fucking boxes’.

“They were interviewing more and more people and I said you should really do more with all this material you have.”

There was little budget floating around and despite Raunet’s inexperience – “I’ve never done anything like that before.” – Wiz asked her to come on board as director. “Hopefully I could do a bit better than just talking heads,” laughs Raunet. 

There was a steep learning curve as Raunet, who’d made some of her own promos but only really used iMovie, blagged some editing software and set about the task. 

“They were interviewing more and more people and I said you should really do more with all this material you have.”


“I just got my head around it and started learning the programme,” she recalls, “meanwhile more interviews were coming through – in the end we ended up speaking with 27 people.

“It was a bit of a shock, I really was learning on the job.”

Raunet hadn’t set about to become a director, despite her mum having been a documentary maker and an initial plan to study film while at school in France – she’s Franco-Canadian – was thwarted after being told it wasn’t serious enough and directed instead towards theatre studies. 

Her first task was to set out the boundaries of the film. 

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“I thought it was important to set kind of parameters,” she explains, meaning that they only used WIZ material, from the rushes of Weekender (“it’s not like today, it was strictly storyboarded and all shot on 16mm film”), his short film Nish and personal archive. “I was reinterpreting those to help tell the story.

“The first thing I did was build a narrative using the interviews that didn’t change very much; once I had that down then it was a matter of incorporating the imagery. I had a pretty strong structure from quite early on, had I not, it would have been a lot more difficult.”

One of her other roles is working as a content provider for Canadian arts magazines interviewing artists and making podcasts. “I’m able to take an interview and strip it down, so I approached it as I would a podcast.”

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With rare and unseen footage, as well as the new interviews, the film offers up a snapshot of the time. Raunet’s distance from Flowered Up – she arrived in London in the late 1990s, long after their demise, was often a plus. 

“I was 10 when Weekender came out,” she recalls. “I actually wasn’t into the band, I knew more about the film, especially because I didn’t come to England until the late 90s, by that time Flowered Up were no more. They didn’t make it over [to Canada] for 10 or 11 year olds to hear.

“I moved to London when I was 16, I heard about it, but I think the first time I saw it was on VHS tape in the early 2000s… I remember thinking this was so cool. I started going to raves when I was really young, It wasn’t miles off, I felt probably more akin to that generation. When I first arrived, I pretty quickly got into the electro scene, Weatherall was doing all the Haywire parties… It’s a culture I feel close to.”

“It was really important for me that I approached it as a DIY cut and paste thing, to embrace the imperfections.”


That distance offered a different perspective too, as she explains: “It’s a different era now, I was mindful of that when I was making it.

“Obviously it’s going to appeal to an audience that was there at the time, that are fans of the band, fans of the video, who know this inside out. But how could we also make it relevant to a younger audience that’s maybe not familiar with that? And I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people talking about acid house, the same old heads saying the same old things. In that sense, getting Anna Haigh’s perspective [the former Bocca Juniors vocalist stars in the original short], Roy the Roach’s perspective, was important. These were bits I wanted to incorporate. “[Make-up artist] Sacha Souter was one of the later interviews, she was really good. It’s nice to balance it out.”

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Finally completed, with a healthy dose of the kind of creativity in the UK created by first punk rock and later acid house – the twin inspirations for the Heavenly label in the first place – and now with the support of the BFI (the organisation has already worked with Heavenly on the Lawrence film Lawrence of Belgravia, Raunet praises the work of Heavenly’s Martin Kelly, not just in helping get the film completed, but also hooking up with the BFI), the film was due to be handed in on the day that it was announced that the Weekender of the title, actor Lee Whitlock, had become the latest involved to lose his life.

“We were able to get a dedication to him before he we handed it in,” says Raunet. “The final shot of him in the film,” she adds, “we already knew he had cancer.”

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So now completed, how does Raunet feel about the finished film? 

“It was really important for me that I approached it as a DIY cut and paste thing, to embrace the imperfections. Today so many things are so polished, I wanted to tap into the DIY elements of the early days of acid house. It’s a very Heavenly way of working.”

It is, as Raunet notes (and Shaun Ryder muses on during the film) a record of what Weekender is, a kind of time capsule of a time that has now disappeared. 

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“Maybe you had it 15 years ago, but the idea of spending your Friday evening in a record shop, talking on your [landline] and making plans, has disappeared.

“Mass youth tribes might be a thing of the past, but in some respects, we’re arguably going through a similar struggle politically now.”

Meanwhile, as the interview draws to a close, in some kind of acid house serendipity, as if by magic – “Do you believe n magic?” as the Lovin’ Spoonful inspired Heavenly motto runs – one of Weatherall’s mixes of Weekender comes on through the sound system upstairs in the Social. It’s an apt moment to wrap up as Raunet outlines her forthcoming post-I Am Weekender plans.

She’s now working on an outline for another documentary, and has picked up her recording career, working on another C.A.R. record. Her reflection on the finished film is similar to that of a finished record.

“It’s like every time I’ve done an album,” she laughs, “after it’s made, I think how the fuck did I do that?”

I Am Weekender, incorporating the full Weekender short, plays at the Glasgow Film Festival on March 11 and 12, a Q&A following the first airing. It will screen at the BFI Southbank in June, with other screenings planned, before a Blu-ray release from the BFI.