(Issue 160)
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Remember the award-winning ideas you and your friends created at the back of a classroom, and more latterly at the pub? Starting out aged 13, Louis Hudson and Ian Ravenscroft have made a company out of the sort of animation, comedy and TV we all wish we were clever and unhinged enough to follow through. They've won those awards you dreamt about too. Here's our pick of the inside of their craniums. Click to watch the productions in full. And headphones on if you're at work.
Don't Fear Death (3 mins)
Synopsis: A narrator cheerily argues the benefits of being dead, aided by a montage of corpses in everyday situations and a dance-crazed Grim Reaper.
More: More than 50 characters appear in just 183 seconds of animation. The euphorically morbid piece was one of the last projects completed by the late Rik Mayall, who narrates the short in his inimitable fashion.
Croissant (2 mins)
Synopsis: To the increasing consternation of his companion, a man gets a crumb of croissant stuck on his face which he is unable to remove.
More: Filmed at King’s Sandwich Bar in Kings Heath, almost no adjustments were needed in readying the location. Without spoiling the narrative, there's a lot a production team can achieve with ping pong balls, syringes and cordial.
All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) (9 mins)
Synopsis: A tiny man lives inside a cat with only his knitting to occupy him. When he sees his cat’s new owner, he becomes obsessed and decides to introduce himself.
More: The story started from a drawing Louis completed of a frustrated man punching the inside of a hollow cat. With a student tester trailer accumulating over a million views on YouTube, an accomplished script editor and funding followed.
Monday Hump Day Friday (6 secs)
Synopsis: A week of office life captured in three GIFs.
More: Increasingly LOLzy the more times you watch it, Ian‘s work at BBC Digital Guerrillas has involved a takeover of BBC Three‘s Snapchat channel which resulted in Louis’ week-themed contributions captured above. We haven't seen "Thursday" but something tells us it involves a glass. And a bottle.


After a decade producing concept paintings, Birmingham-based artist Mark Hickman, decided on what's known in the artistic world as a 'radical' change and turned his brush-wielding attention to producing a series of paintings exploring atmosphere and light. Now favouring landscapes in oil, Mark's exhibiting six pieces which cover Paris, London, Venice and fair 'ol Brum as part of Purple Gallery's Christmas exhibition. Sunset view Towards BT Tower is an original oil on canvas, and it looks a lot like Mark will have had to break in to one of Snow Hill's towers in order to capture the scape from this angle. No need to call anyone though, right? Make the JQ's skyline your wall's skyline for £595.


A love story is only as good as the obstacles faced by the central couple, so how’s about the powerful racism of post-war Britain? Studying in England after the war, the crown prince of what’s now Botswana meets and falls in love with an ordinary English woman, throwing all manner of prejudiced cats among the pigeons as the crumbling imperial establishment try and stop their union. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, both actors of the moment, are superb as the leads. It seems odd that a film that's making a point against prejudice doesn’t seem that interested in events in Africa, but it does provide a stirring and timely reminder of just how deep bigotry can run in society. Times


For one merrily maniacal Digbeth day, Digmas is taking over the greater Custard Factory area. The Paperdolls Handmade Market is entirely indoors and brings with it enough creativity to solve December 2016. Get your mitsies on everything from contemporary origami which doubles up as Chrimbo decs (pictured bottom right), to hand-lettered stationery, to burnished linocut arty happenings. Turning to sustenance, Holy Moly Macaroni is debuting its pasta-based wares as part of the street food festivities. Also in town will be Jabberwocky's German arm. Think schnitzel, think sausage and think strudel. Feels good, doesn't it? This Saturday (Nov 26) from 11am until 6pm, entry is free.


If tinsel and baubles aren't going to cut the cranberry relish this year, how about a print from Vincent Van Doodle? The creation of a husband and wife team, Gremlins (pictured) started with a conversation about their top xmas flicks, and involves layers of images from the movie. You can get it in A4 for £10, or upgrade to A3 for £15 — the ethos at Vincent Van Doodle is that everyone should have access to art (and not be forced into that little known Scandi brand starting with an 'I'). Unavailable online due to the huge demand generated by the team's LinkStreet store (Bullring), there's something for all you filthy animals.


Beautiful and British, for four days (including today) the Mailbox is putting on a showcase of leading high-end, born and bred brands, covering everything from fashion and lifestyle to drink. There'll be urban homeware from Stolen Form, a mean leather game from Leather Satchel Company and properly proper lip care from Albus & Flora. We're also predicting a swift trade from The Sweet Potato Spirit Company. A Worcestershire-based operation, the team exclusively creates spirits using sweet potato as its base. How d'ya like them tatas? Independent the nuts out of Black Friday (and until Nov 27). More
Venue: The Physician, 36 Harbone Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DH; website
Choice: Sticky toffee pudding (£5.95) Chooser: Waitress, Vicky

But where is it? The Physician opens today on the corner of Harborne and Highfield Roads, on the former site of the Birmingham Medical Institute. It's got a roaring log fire or two to see you through to Easter, at which point the multi-aspect beer garden's got your back. A bit like someone really rich's house, the large space is split into plenty of connected dining rooms (we dined in The Orangery), with more pictures on the wall than a real person could accumulate in twenty-three lifetimes. The food is less accomplished than the interior and the service, the latter of which was uniformly lovely. In terms of what to order, we tried nine dishes with lotteryesque results. The Sicilian fish stew (£15.95) took the crown on mains, with both the shoulder of lamb (£17.25) and crab-stuffed plaice (£16.95) lacking in seasoning and texture. The classic sticky toffee pudding was the most jollifying dish, which leads us to suggest, keep your food order simple for the best results. Menu
  • Get the first issue of Bell & Smokey direct to your inbox by subscribing here. You'll like it
  • Give all the thanks at The Dark Horse today and across the weekend with smoked turkey, pumpkin pie and American craft beers. Probably in buckets
  • Rush Birmingham opens in Kings Norton today. Think extreme dodgeball and Total Wipeout, plus trampolines. Someone should probably write a film or make a hit gameshow about it
  • Also letting Joe Public in for the first time today is Shirley's Indico Street Kitchen. Open seven days, we're favouring a prawn malai tiffin box for our first order
  • Submit a short film to the guys at Flatpack for a stab at prize money of £1,000 and the chance to see your directorial dealings at Flatpack 11, which is now confirmed for April 4 to 9, 2017. More
"That's just typical. Five minutes before the most important party of my life and the house is destroyed by a giant sandwich." 
- Rik Mayall, The Young Ones
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry

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