A fateful meeting between a group of filmmakers and one of York’s most iconic buskers sparked a creative idea.
Film and TV production students Thibs Lacombe, Poppy Townson, Harry Henthorn and Shannon Kirrane were in The Habit on Goodramgate in December 2019 when they heard a guy start playing his guitar by the bay window.
“His music instantly grabbed us,” Thibs said. “Pretty much instantly we knew we wanted to make a documentary about this guy.
“We exchanged details right there and then and the rest is history.”
That musician was David Ward Maclean, the singer-songwriter who has been gigging and busking in York for 30 years. Nearly two years later, he is the subject of He Loved This Place, the first documentary by Grumpy Goose Media, the company set up by those four students after they graduated.
The film, released on YouTube last month, aims to capture the essence of an icon of York’s cultural scene.
It is an intimate profile of David, revealing his creative philosophy and his history with York – he fell in love with the city after moving here from the highlands of Scotland. It also features a couple of performances.
With its open mic nights, gigs and buskers, York has a close-knit musical community. “Everyone knows each other,” Thibs said. “The city is made for music. David is very much part of the DNA of this inexplicable feeling floating heavily in the cobbled streets.
“He is a modern-day bard.”
The doc captures magic of the York music scene. Grumpy Goose – the name was inspired by the geese that flock to the University of York campus – started shooting in January 2020 on a shoestring budget, with the team using money from their jobs to pay for sound and camera equipment.
“We relied totally on the graciousness of the bar and pub owners and friends of David to help us out on this,” Thibs said. “Shout out to The Habit and Andrew James, Evil Eye bar, Dave Hartley and Robert Loxley Hughes, Neil Slater, Charlie Swainsthon, Tim Williams, and Simon Snaize.”
Due to the pandemic, filming had to be halted for six months with the shoot wrapping up in July 2020. The documentary then went into a further 12 months of post-production.
“From that initial meeting at The Habit to its release, the process has taken 20 months,” Thibs said. “It is a work of love through and through.”
Submitted to film festivals
The response to the documentary has been “the most rewarding part of making this whole thing.”
“David was really appreciative,” Thibs said. “As he is a bit of a local legend plenty of his fans and supporters watched the documentary and loved it.
“It’s heart-warming when a project that you’ve been so attached to emotionally is released out into the wild and gets a lovely reception such as this.
“There’s nothing better for filmmakers.”
The documentary has now been submitted to multiple film festivals such as the Liverpool Film Festival and Doc.London.
“We really do hope it gets nominated and seen by people across the UK and maybe even the world.
“We feel like David deserves this recognition. Moreover, we are proud of the city of York as a place harbouring arts and culture in this way and want to pay our respect to its musical sector.”
And you can expect to see more from Grumpy Goose Media.
“We hope to establish ourselves as a premier producer of media for small businesses in the North of England.
“More recently we have crowdfunded and shot a new documentary following professional musician Dave Donovan.”
Donations can still be made for the pick-up shoot and post-production at their GoFundMe.