Permanent Plastic Helmet is an independent, UK-based blog about popular culture founded by Ashley Clark in January 2010.
Ashley Clark is a freelance writer and film programmer. His writing has appeared in publications including Sight & Sound, Little White Lies, Groslch Film Works, Slant, Reverse Shot, Film4.com and The Guardian. He has worked as an associate programmer with the BFI’s education department, and is a member of the African and Consultative Group which programs the BFI’s African Odysseys strand. He has also appeared on panels at the BFI London Film Festival and run workshops with the BFI Future Film Festival. He currently works as Brochure Editor and Social Media Manager for Film Africa festival’s 2013 edition.
Message from the editor:
“When I first started the blog, it was intended as a hobby, something I could busy myself with when not working at my full-time job. I updated it frequently with film reviews, features, and pictures of actors with funny haircuts. I found that building something entirely from scratch, something that was completely my own, to be a rewarding experience. After a bit of hard graft and a few redesigns, I noticed that the readership was beginning to grow, and some kind feedback was coming in. Emboldened by the response, I started to pay more attention to my writing, and also began to introduce a host of talented contributors. I got my first full accreditation for a festival (LFF 2011) and all, as they have been known to say on occasion, was gravy.
In July 2012, I was thrilled to expand the PPH ’empire’ into events (read the full story over at our events page.) However, around the same time, I made the leap into a career as a full-time freelance film journalist, leaving me with less and less time to work on the blog. I didn’t want PPH to become a lazy, PR churning exercise full of trailers and posters, and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of putting slapdash work out there.
As most (honest) freelancers will tell you, film journalism is hardly a lucrative pursuit, but the bank account-related vapours are counterbalanced in other ways, to wit: the opportunity to see pre-release films for free; the ego-trip/boost of seeing your name in print; the scarcely believable thrill of being paid to give your opinion on a film; the chance to visit international film festivals; and the velvety, necessary comfort of being part of a community of similarly penurious writers and cinephiles both in-person and online.
Now, because a) blogging is supposed to be fun, not a total fucking chore, and b) I really want to keep this space alive (I’m quite proud of it), I’ve decided to throw off my mental chains and reframe Permanent Plastic Helmet as a dumping ground for anything pop culture-related that I want to share or get off my chest. Most of my week is spent watching, researching and/or writing about films, and, quite frankly, I like to do other things too, whether it’s reading The New Yorker, gorging on DVD box sets or listening to Steely Dan.
This all means that in the future, regularity of updates, self-indulgence levels and subject matter will fluctuate wildly. For example, I’ve often wanted to write about music on here, but felt (ridiculously, really) hemmed in by the blog’s stated remit. That changes now. I’ve also drastically simplified the look and feel of the blog, because its previous iteration – a busy, magazine-style template – gave the impression of a hive of activity, contradicting the site’s general dormant state over the last year or so. Finally, I also hope to be able to tempt some of my favourite fellow writers to contribute occasional columns or opinion pieces.
The King is dead. Long live The King.
Your humble editor (23/6/13)”
Do we accept contributions?
Sure. If you’re interested in writing for us, and think your style would suit, please feel free to get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org is the address you’re looking for, though it’s probably best to make it clear from the off that we’re not currently (and are a long, long way away from being) in a position to be able to pay contributors.
Prior contributors to the site include:
Guillaume Gendron, Fintan McDonagh, Cathy Landicho, Michael Mand, Basia Lewandowska Cummings, John McKnight, Jamie R, Sam Price, Jack Scragg, Edward Wall, Will Peach, Sophie Monks Kaufman and Tom Cottey.
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As evidence of the site’s new general ‘pop cultural’ direction, the header image is an edited version of a painting from African-American artist Jacob Lawrence’s ‘The Migration Series’ (1940-41)