profile image

Jon Spira

Filmmaker, writer, ex-video shop owner, grumptimist.

Jon lives in North London with his wife, cat and several thousand DVDs. He is a documentary filmmaker with two feature films to his name; ANYONE CAN PLAY GUITAR (2011) and ELSTREE 1976 (2015). He is currently working on his third. Between 2013 and 2016, he was the in-house documentary maker for the British Film Institute. His first book VIDEOSYNCRATIC: A BOOK ABOUT LIFE IN VIDEO SHOPS was released in 2017. It looks exactly like a VHS tape and has a foreword from Countdown's Suzy Dent. His second book, THE FORGOTTEN FILM CLUB VOL 1 was also released in 2017 and has a foreword from rock star Frank Turner. Over the years, Jon has been a film student, film tutor, film blogger, screenwriter and spent many years hanging out in, working in, running or owning a wide variety of video shops. He has written for The Huffington Post, BFI, The Daily Telegraph and many crappy websites and blogs.

Stale Popcorn

If I had told 16 year-old-me that Ridley Scott would return to direct a new Alien film, he would hyperventilate with joy. Then if I told him that he would not only not be queuing up at his local cinema to see it on day of release, but wouldn't even be likely to ever watch it unless there was no better choice on a long-haul flight, he would have some kind of breakdown.
21/09/2017 15:43 BST
My Ten Best Films of

My Ten Best Films of 2015

I will not celebrate the films of 2015 in the traditional manner. Instead, I will celebrate the films I have seen in 2015. 'New' is not reason enough to watch a film.
21/12/2015 13:26 GMT
The Idiot

The Idiot Box

San Andreas might be the stupidest film I've ever seen.... a new breed of stupid. It's not low-budget slapdash stupid. It's not aimed-at-children stupid. It's not silly knockabout action-star totally-fun stupid. It's stupid-stupid. The things that happen in it, the things people say, everything is done without a shred of intelligence, sophistication or even care.
02/06/2015 00:08 BST
Pre-Code Hollywood: The Forgotten

Pre-Code Hollywood: The Forgotten Genre

Like a lot of people, Black and White cinema didn't do much for me growing up. My access point was through the Universal Monster movies, leading in to Hitchcock and as I got older, I found myself able to sit through Truffaut and Ozu and eventually I came to embrace films of a greyer palette.
19/05/2014 14:09 BST
Ripley's Believe it or

Ripley's Believe it or Not

As the crowd gathered outside in the summer sun, I developed a knot in my stomach. It was an exact mix of sci-fi nerds and people with massive grins on their faces expecting a work of ludicrous ironic genius. I have to admit that I had bought tickets in feverish haste as a combination of both of these attitudes but, filing into the theatre, suddenly felt awful.
03/06/2013 15:44 BST
I Am

I Am Breathing

At a time when most people would want to retract from the world and slip away, leaving a memory and image of themselves in their prime, Neil decided to come forward. He decided to put the underfunding of MND research and the realities of the condition front and centre.
07/05/2013 13:02 BST

Sexy Hitler

Last night I watched a new high-profile documentary on BBC 2 called 'The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler'. As a media-savvy and generally educated Jewish man in his mid-thirties, I have long passed the point in which such things should appeal.
14/11/2012 14:44 GMT
Skywalkin' Back to

Skywalkin' Back to Happiness

All I can see here is good news. Lucas is done with hurting <em>Star Wars</em> and is passing it on to a new generation of filmmakers and a company who have an established track record in protecting and helping develop legacy brands.
31/10/2012 22:47 GMT

Write On

I'll cut all the crap right now and tell you the only two things you need to write a screenplay - a point to make and an understanding of the 3-act structure. If you have those two things, you're as likely to make it as you would be without the endless lists and hyperbolic formulas offered by hacks. Which is still... not very likely at all unless you put in years and years of work.
13/09/2012 14:57 BST
The Joy of Horror - A Response to Charlotte

The Joy of Horror - A Response to Charlotte Skeoch

I don't like horror films. I don't like being scared. I don't like gore. I don't like dismemberment. I don't like sadism. I don't like torture. I don't ever find violence funny. I don't like any of that stuff, but that's my personal taste and does not warrant a dismissal of the genre in any way.
06/09/2012 16:56 BST


In my first year of film school, now an uncomprehendable 17 years ago, I went with some friends to see Toy Story on its first weekend of release. As a bunch of cocky late-teenage wannabe auteurs, kids films were perhaps the only the genre of movie we weren't consuming rabidly. We went purely because of the evolutionary step the film represented. The first full CGI feature film.
21/08/2012 09:30 BST

Bunk Britannia

I've grown to hate Don Letts... I'm just sick of his sunglasses-indoors-bedecked face cropping up every five minutes to tell the same boring stories about punk. He has become the George Martin of punk - and not in the 'creative genius' way - more in the 'couple of years of doing something, four decades of agreeing to every interview and saying the same old boring crap again and again' way.
04/06/2012 12:58 BST
Morons &

Morons & Mugs

One of my biggest ponderings about tourists over the years is what the hell they DO in Leicester Square. They all go there. But I never see them inside the cinemas or comedy clubs, so they're not doing that. There's nothing to see there, apart from the odd below-par caricaturist and the vague possibility of seeing Pat Sharp emerge from Capital FM.
03/05/2012 15:17 BST
Speaking Frankly About

Speaking Frankly About Music

As a 30-something music fan, it's pretty easy to feel disheartened these days. It's not that there is a shortage of good music, not at all, but a very fractured landscape in which bands can become popular and respected in tiny music-loving niches but usually not to such a degree that they can actually make a living from it.
17/04/2012 22:45 BST
My Big Fat Jewish

My Big Fat Jewish Mother*

As a Jew, I was mercifully spared such indignity as bullying as the only Jewish stereotype on TV at the time was Maureen Lipman in the BT adverts and that was luckily far too subtle a stereotype for most kids to even notice. No, I got off clean.
16/03/2012 21:55 GMT