Banbury filmmaker’s documentary on controversial ska band on TV

Ska-d by the Music director Sharon Woodward NNL-180430-135644001
Ska-d by the Music director Sharon Woodward NNL-180430-135644001

A documentary about a controversial ska band by a filmmaker who grew up in Banbury is making its television debut tomorrow, Friday.

Sharon Woodward, who lived in Tadmarton and Bretch Hill until she was 13, has been working on the film about Symarip since 2012, called Ska-d by the Music.

After battling funding issues, the 53-year-old filmmaker cannot wait for the public to see her piece on the band, which ‘engaged a generation of working-class teenagers’.

“I am very pleased that I have made this film and have the opportunity to show people how amazing this band was,” she said.

Symarip’s heyday was in the late 1960s as the British-Jamaican group were one of the first to engage young, white men in ska and reggae music, among the inspirations for the skinhead movement.

The band was banned by the BBC and Mecca Ballrooms as their biggest hit, Skinhead Moonstomp, was accompanied with sometimes-destructive dancing.

Ska-d by the Music director Sharon Woodward NNL-180430-135703001

Ska-d by the Music director Sharon Woodward NNL-180430-135703001

Sharon said Syramip was a seen as a threat to the norm as traditionally-black music was mixing with white communities, which the establishment felt uncomfortable about.

The movement was taken over by white nationalists but the filmmaker wants to show how it was not originally racist as black artists like Symarip were part of its origins.

“I wanted to show how important ska music had been to young people at that time and show how they had a really important place in young people’s lives,” she said.

Sharon, who lived with her grandmother in Tadmarton and went to Drayton School, now North Oxfordshire Academy, interviewed original Syramip members as well as other musicians from the time for her documentary.

Symarip band member Roy Ellis NNL-180430-135622001

Symarip band member Roy Ellis NNL-180430-135622001

A crowdfunding effort raised money to afford using the music but after five years, Sharon will see her work on the Together Channel four times over the next two weeks.

“It was a very important film to make for me as I was a big fan of theirs so it was very exciting to interview them,” she said.

“We did struggle to make it with the fundraising but I was determined to finish it, so I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

It will be broadcast on the Together Channel tomorrow night at 11pm, on Saturday at 7pm, at 11pm on May 14, and at 6pm on May 19.

Symarip band member Monty Neysmith NNL-180430-135633001

Symarip band member Monty Neysmith NNL-180430-135633001

Symarip band member Michael Thomas NNL-180430-135725001

Symarip band member Michael Thomas NNL-180430-135725001

Symarip drummer Frank Pitter NNL-180430-135714001

Symarip drummer Frank Pitter NNL-180430-135714001