Robert Nevitt moved to Sheffield to attend Hallam University in 1998 and, like many of the city’s former students, never left. A lifelong horror film fan, his rabid appetite for cinematic terror has taken him all over the globe, initially as a fan but subsequently as an award-winning filmmaker. His short films have screened at film festivals in the UK and abroad. Since 2008 he has been the festival director for Celluloid Screams, Sheffield’s horror film festival, which returns to the Showroom Cinema from October 26 to 28 with a fear-filled weekend of premieres, previews, special guests and classic film screenings. Visit www.celluloidscreams.co.uk. www.showroomworkstation.org.uk.
Sheffield’s cinemas have been a massive part of my life since moving here. Getting a job at the Odeon on Arundel Gate over the summer after my first year at university not only gave me my first experience of the cinema industry (from the ground up), it was also the place that I met my wife, Louise, who was also working there as a student. Some firm and longstanding friendships were forged at the Odeon and it will always remain a special place for me. On a more functional level, the sheer number of films across the city’s cinemas is staggering. Pretty much any film on general release comes here and Sheffield clearly has a solid core cinema-going audience, which was something I firmly believed in when starting Celluloid Screams. I never could have imagined when I was sitting in university screenings at the Showroom that one day I’d be running my own horror festival there. It’s a perfect venue for an event like Celluloid Screams. I’d love to see Abbeydale Picture House restored to its former glory as a functioning cinema again. As long as the programming was suitably diverse and offering something different I think it could be successful.
Before I moved here, I recall being told to avoid going to Sheffield because it was “too grey and dreary”. Fully expecting to be greeted by a city view from Michael Radford’s 1984, I was surprised and pleased to discover how green Sheffield is. Endcliffe Park, the Botanical Gardens and Graves Park are all favourite destinations for walking our dog and taking a stroll with our three-month-old son Joseph. Being so close to the Peak District is an added bonus.
As a teenager, seeing anything resembling a decent band meant travelling from Stoke-on-Trent to Manchester, Birmingham or Wolverhampton, so Sheffield’s live music scene was a refreshing change. There are loads of great venues and lots of amazing bands that play all the time, and when you factor Tramlines into the equation, you realise that you’re living in one of the most vibrant cities in the UK for real live music. It’s been that way for ages, though, with The Human League, Heaven 17 and Pulp, to name just a few. Many Sheffield bands don’t easily fit into a bracket, and I think that’s a sense of independence and defiance that the bands inherit from the city itself. My current favourites include Roaming Son (one of the best rock n’ roll bands going) Chanteuse and the Crippled Claw, Friends of Batman and The Mason Dixon-Line Powergrab (imagine gothic hillbilly Americana with an underlying threat of violence). I’d also be some kind of fool not to mention my own band at this point, The Clench, for which I play electric guitar. We play Spaghetti Western-inspired rock n roll music.
DIVISION STREET AND BEYOND
I love the atmosphere on Division Street. It’s such a fantastic, vibrant part of the city with all sorts of people intermingling. The Forum is very much part of that ethos, with the bar and shopping arcade, though I think perhaps that some people don’t know about the shops being there. Then you’ve got great bars and pubs like The Bowery, Bungalows & Bears and The Washington all close by but totally distinct from one another in style, and Sheffield institutions like Rocky Horrors and Rare and Racy. It’s just a great hub for interesting, creative people.
SHOPPING ON THE FRINGES
The city centre and Meadowhall are fairly ordinary when it comes to shops, but thankfully there are interesting one-of-a-kind stores hidden away that offer something a little different such as Sheffield Space Centre. If I ever need an imported Studio Ghibli plush I know where to go. Another favourite is Tilley’s Magazines on Shoreham Street. I could spend hours in there sifting through back issues of Fangoria and other vintage horror magazines. Record Collector in Broomhill is the last of a dying breed; their support for local artists and dedication to that independent record store spirit is unrivalled and long may it continue.