Stand By for Tape Backup

Saturday, March 26 @ 2:45pm  |  Harvard Film Archive

2015 | UK | 63 minutes
Director: Ross Sutherland

Buy Tickets

‘Two years ago, I found a videotape in my loft. On it: one and a half films, one quiz show and two sitcoms. Somehow it became the story of my life.”

Invoking the sometimes unsettling, often gratifying dichotomy of synchronicity experiments gone horribly right—think “Dark Side of the Rainbow,” the Jungian mating of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz—Ross Sutherland creates his own personal audio visual meditation, using found-footage from one of his granddad’s old VHS tapes, live before a studio audience.

Filmmaker, playwright, and poet, Sutherland wields and subverts all three artforms to build a mindblowing media looking-glass that gazes back. Through rants and raps, rewinds and pauses, he maps his very mind and memories onto loops of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and ponders a particularly formative experience of watching Ghostbusters at age four, all the while reflecting on media’s deep influence and deeper inheritance.

Stand By for Tape Back-Up is an immersive experience almost impossible to describe to the uninitiated. By using the big screen as a personal scrapbook, Sutherland reveals how magnetic tape is indelibly tied to his sense of self and the world around him. With rave reviews from the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and 2015’s Fantastic Fest, Stand By for Tape Back-Up offers a rare synthesis of sound and vision that must not be missed.

Nicole McControversy

About the Artist
Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh in 1979. He was included in The Times’s list of Top Ten Literary Stars of 2008. He has four collections of poetry: Things To Do Before You Leave Town (2009), Twelve Nudes (2010), Hyakuretsu Kyaku (2011), and Emergency Window (2012), all published by Penned In The Margins. Ross is also a member of the poetry collective Aisle16 with whom he runs Homework, an evening of literary miscellany in East London.

He has written several pieces for the stage, including The Three Stigmata of Pacman (2010) and the interactive theatre show Comedian Dies In The Middle Of A Joke (2012). His new show, Stand By for Tape Back-Up, is currently on tour in the UK. He also has a documentary about whether computers will ever be able to write poetry: Every Rendition On A Broken Machine can be watched at


Matt Meindl, 2 min.

The real breakdown of a streaming car ad is captured, salvaged and (somewhat) rebuilt.