The roots of Heavenly Films stretch back as far as the early 1990s and the origins of the record label of the same name. Martin Kelly (MD of Heavenly Films) was a founding partner of Heavenly Recordings with Jeff Barrett in 1990. The pair went on to launch the careers of Saint Etienne, The Manic Street Preachers, Doves, Beth Orton, Ed Harcourt and The Magic Numbers amongst others.
Film makers Paul Kelly and Kieran Evans were among the directors regularly hired by the label to create music promos and short films featuring Heavenly artists and in 2002 joined forces with Saint Etienne to create a feature length documentary about London, to accompany the band's latest album 'Finisterre'. Written by Kevin Pearce with Bob Stanley and narrated by Michael Jayston the film takes a very personal approach to documenting the city and was released to critical acclaim at the following year's Onedotzero film festival. It is seen as a landmark work about the UK capital and has gone on to influence a new wave of film-makers. Finisterre was released on DVD in 2004 by Plexifilm.
In 2005 Saint Etienne and Paul Kelly were commissioned by the Barbican to create a film set in the future site of the 2012 Olympic games - the east end's Lower Lea Valley. 'What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day?' perfectly captured a forgotten and soon to be lost part of the city at a crucial moment, just before the bulldozers moved in. Screened in October of the same year the premiere featured the band performing a live soundtrack in front of a sold out Barbican main hall. In the audience that night was Jude Kelly, the newly appointed artistic director of the South Bank Centre. Impressed by the film, she invited Bob and Pete from Saint Etienne along with Paul Kelly and producer Andrew Hinton to spend a year as artists-in-residence at the Royal Festival Hall.
The resulting tenure saw the team deliver 'This Is Tomorrow', a 75 minute documentary about the history and reconstruction of the Royal Festival Hall, which premiered in the main auditorium itself as part of the re-opening celebrations in June 2007, along with a live sountrack performed by Saint Etienne and an ensemble of over 70 musicians.
As well as directing various UK television projects, Kieran Evans spent the years 2007 and 2008 filming and directing 'From Here To Before' an intimate portrait of British folk singer Vashti Bunyan which premiered at the 2008 London Film Festival and was nominated for the 2008 Grierson award. Kieran won a BAFTA in February 2014 for Outstranding Debut By A British Director for his first feature 'Kelly + Victor'.
In September 2010 work began on a new archive based project by Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne entitled 'How We Used To Live' (originally 'This Is London' / 'LDN') in collaboration with the BFI (British Film Institute) and Bedlam Productions (makers of 'The Kings Speech'). 'How We Used To Live' is the team's fourth portrait of London and premiered to widespead accliam at the 2013 London Film Festival. It is set for screenings across the UK during 2014 - please check the news page here for details.
July 2013 saw the BFI released a DVD collection of 10 films directed by Paul Kelly in association with Saint Etienne entitled 'A London Trilogy: the films of Saint Etienne 2003-2007'. The set contains 'Finisterre' (co-directed with Kieran Evans) 'What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day?', 'This Is Tomorrow' plus 7 short films including the previously unreleased 'Banksy In London' shot in 2003, which documents much of the artists early work.
Recent BAFTA winner Kieran Evans and Paul Kelly are currently putting the finishing touches to a new Heavenly Film - the first project the pair have co-directed since Finisterre in 2003. 'Nowhere Is Home' captures Kevin Rowland and his band Dexys during their residency at London's Duke Of Yorks theatre and is set to Premier at NFT1 on the Southbank in May 2014.