by Joe Magee

Image of young boy, wearing a hat, holding his hands over his ears.


  • 1Still from Gearhead
  • 2Still from Gearhead

Still from Gearhead


On a bleak English housing estate a dysfunctional teenager is living in a loop. Driven by a daily mission, his behaviour stops at nothing until it is achieved. There is only ever one thing on his mind.

Gearhead presents to us the day in the life of a young heroin addict. Using heavily manipulated video and graphic colourisation, Joe Magee's film conveys the surreal experience of a young drop-out. The protagonist's state of mind manifests through extreme film loops and continually recurring sound motifs. Dogs become agitated, birds circle and clocks stop working all to the backdrop of a melancholy ice-cream van. And all the while children play in the never-far-away playground.

Joe Magee worked with young people of Bristol's Knowle West estate to create three independent stories. Gearhead is just one of the award winning short films, which when united with Fruit Loop and Clot create a coherent whole.

Gearhead was awarded winner of the 2004 Film Council First Light Best Film Award. Sir Alan Parker, who presented the award, said "The judges felt that this film was a clear winner due to the incredibly sophisticated use of visual, aural and structural properties of film. This is a haunting film and stays with the viewer perhaps for longer than they would like. Very imaginative, edgy - strongly directed and grimly clear."


Year 2003
Duration 9 minutes
Original format
Screening format Beta SP
Aspect ratio 1:1.33
Audio Yes
Colour / B&W Colour
Screens 1

External links:


Commissioned by Picture This and Knowle West Media Centre. Supported by the lottery throughout the Film Council’s First Light initiative. Also supported by Knowle West Detached Youth Project and Aardman Animation.

Screening history:

Brief Encounters Short Film Festival
Bristol, UK

Commonwealth Film Festival
Manchester, UK

Edinburgh Film Festival
Edinburgh, UK

LUX open
London, UK

Related Items:

Joe Magee

Joe Magee has developed a personal practice encompassing a range of traditional and electronic media, especially print making and moving image work,

KWMC: 3 films

These three films were developed with the support of the community and young people who live in Knowle West, Bristol.