23 Seconds to Eternity

UK 2023, 116 mins
Director: Bill Butt

+ Q&A with producer/director Bill Butt

23 Seconds to Eternity will take viewers on a film journey through the collected music videos and short features produced and directed by Bill Butt in collaboration with Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond in their various guises as The JAMs, The KLF and The Timelords, one of the most successful, subversively creative and enigmatic electronic bands of the early 90s. This release is the first ever compilation of KLF Communication’s films and includes previously unreleased material along with an illustrated booklet.

The KLF became the biggest selling singles act in the world in 1991 with a series of international smash hits including acid house anthems ‘3 A.M. Eternal’, ‘Last Train to Transcentral’ and ‘Justified & Ancient’, released on their own KLF Communications record label.

23 Seconds to Eternity includes the film The White Room (1989), an ‘ambient road movie’ following American police car Ford Timelord and Jimmy Cauty (Rockman Rock) and Bill Drummond (King Boy D) on a journey cross-country in search of the ‘White Room’. Remastered and regraded from the only existing film print, The White Room features a new soundtrack specially recorded for this Blu-ray/DVD release. 23 Seconds to Eternity also features a newly restored version of The Rites of Mu (1991), a 29-minute feature narrated by Martin Sheen, documenting a summer solstice event organised by The KLF on the Scottish island of Jura in 1991, plus the previously unreleased short Krash (1992), edited in 2022, a record of the final and violent destruction of Ford Timelord. The soundtrack to Krash is a track from The Black Room, the unreleased album by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

23 Seconds to Eternity brings together the music videos for the hit singles ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’ (1988) by The Timelords, ‘It’s Grim Up North’ (1991) by The JAMs and the rarely seen Kylie Said to Jason (1989), as well as the Stadium House Trilogy featuring the KLF’s international hits during 1990/91, ‘3 A.M. Eternal’, ‘Last Train to Trancentral’ and ‘What Time Is Love?’, plus the single ‘Justified & Ancient’ (1991) featuring lead vocals by ‘The First Lady of Country’ Miss Tammy Wynette. Released in the UK in March 1992 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the discovery of America by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu in the year 992, the music video America: What Time Is Love? is a guitar-heavy techno-metal version of their 1990 anthem. Shot on the James Bond stage at Pinewood, the film includes a Viking longship (acquired by Bill Butt) and submarine, with vocals from Glenn Hughes (of Deep Purple). It was the fifth and final top five single by the KLF in the UK.

About The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and The KLF
The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (The JAMs for short) was formed in London in 1987 by Jimmy Cauty (Rockman Rock) and Bill Drummond (King Boy D). Their rap, rhyme and scratch approach to making music was the first to totally make use of the cheap sampling and computer technology newly available in the UK. Beginning in 1988 their ‘pure trance’ singles (as The KLF) and series of remixes went on to become anthems at huge summer raves at which The KLF became a regular ‘live’ attraction blasting their audiences with polystyrene pellets, cornflakes and Scottish pound notes. The duo became known for their creative and liberal use of sampling and pioneered ‘stadium house’ – rave music with a pop-rock production and sampled crowd noise. Their 1990 LP, Chill Out, defined the ‘ambient house’ genre.

Adopting the philosophy espoused by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s esoteric novels, the Illuminatus! Trilogy, The KLF embraced the chaos and contradictions of discordianism and situationist ideas to create anarchic situation-based manifestations, including the defacement of billboards and public buildings with graffiti, the posting of cryptic advertisements and unusual live performances. Their performance in collaboration with Extreme Noise Terror at the BRIT Awards in February 1992 ended with the announcement: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, The KLF have now left the music business’ and, in May of that year, they deleted their entire back-catalogue, including their related video releases.

About Bill Butt
Bill Butt met Bill Drummond when they were both 17 at Northampton Art School. Bill Butt later studied stage design at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and worked as a stage and lighting designer for Echo and the Bunnymen, and The Teardrop Explodes, moving on to producing and directing short films for both bands. Bill Butt produced and directed over 50 music videos and shorts between 1981 and 1993, working for artists including Texas, Pete Wylie, Feargal Sharkey, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and Big Country, as well as on all the related KLF films. He has twice been nominated for best video of the year at the Brit Awards. Bill Butt was the series producer on Eyewitness (1993), a nature and science television series produced by the BBC and DK Vision for PBS in the US, where he met Martin Sheen, who narrated the US version of the series, and who went on to narrate The Rites of Mu. Eyewitness Skeleton won an Emmy in the USA.

In 1999 Bill Butt was nominated for a BAFTA for his work as director on the ‘Sharks’ episode of Nigel Marven Giants series. The filming was extreme and featured Nigel free swimming outside the cage with white sharks in ‘Shark Ally’ South Africa and being ‘crowd mobbed’ by reef sharks during a night dive in the Bahamas. While filming whale sharks in Exmouth, Western Australia, Cyclone Vance devastated the town. Despite some damage to the kit and themselves, the crew stayed to film the cyclone and its devastation. Bill Butt has been a voting member of BAFTA since 1999.

Directed by: Bill Butt
©: K2 Plant, Hire Ltd
Production Companies: K2 Plant Hire Ltd
In association with: British Film Institute
Executive Producers: Jimmy Cauty, Bill Drummond
Associate Producer, 1st Assistant Director: David Ball
Edited by: Dan Butt
Editors: Michael Bateman, Dan Butt, Torquil Deacen, Robert Wallace, Rob Wright
Written by: Bill Butt, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Drummond
Land of Mu Director: Jimmy Cauty
Music: The Justified, Ancients of Mu Mu
Picture Restoration and Remastering: Rich Osborn, Kirsty Shields, Type 40
Rites of Mu 35mm Scan and Tape Transfers: Vanderquest Film Scanning
Krash 16mm Scan: James Holcombe, Erehwon
Sound Dub and Remastering: Paul Donovan, Films@59
Music Mastering: Barry Grint_,_ Air Mastering London
Director of Photography: Henry Braham
Camera Operators: Henry Braham, Philip Sindall, Bill Butt
Script Supervisor: Lorraine Fennell
Sound Playback: Simon Clarke
Make-up/Hair: Amanda Knight
Costume Design and Supervision: Cressida Bowyer, Mike Nicholls
Choreography: Cressida Bowyer
Land of Mu: Simon Cauty Models, Jason Perks, Sian Evans, Frank Cauty, Rockman Rock, Susan Ackford, Andrew Crawford, Megan Cauty, James Webb, John Lesinsky, Jess, King Boy D
KLF Representative: Sallie Fellowes
Locations: Yatesbury Airfield, Avebury, Sierra Nevada Spain, Benio London, Woodstock Europa, Isle of Jura, M1 Motorway & Brighton Bypass, Wimbeldon Stadium
Location Managers: Joyce Blacmur, Frances But Special thanks to: Gina Fucci, George Panayiotou, Anita Atawal-Beals, David Cawte, Adrien Marke, Simon Daw, Mark Rolfe, John Ramchandani, Julie Pearce, Douglas Weir, Will Fowler, Jason Wood, Stuart Brown, Sarah Putt

Jimmy Cauty
Bill Drummond
Martin Sheen
Ford Timelord

UK 2023©
116 mins
Digital (remastered)

A BFI release

Running order:
• Doctorin’ the Tardis (1988)
• The White Room (1989) (44 mins, 45 seconds)
• Kylie Said to Jason (1989)
• Stadium House Trilogy (1991)
• The Rites of Mu, Martin Sheen narration (1991) (29 mins 21 Seconds) newly restored
• It’s Grim Up North (1991)
• America: What Time Is Love? (1992)
• Justified & Ancient (1991)
• KRASH (1992) (4 mins, 23 seconds) previously unreleased

Released on limited-edition BFI Blu-ray and DVD (dual format edition) on Monday 6 November

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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