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The Roy Spence Collection

The Roy Spence Collection

Roy Spence is an award-winning amateur filmmaker. For the past 50 years, Spence has been making and screening a series of remarkable and sometimes eccentric films in his cinema in Comber, Co. Down. The films span many genres from sci-fi, horror to folk-life documentaries shot between 1965 and 1986.

Born in County Down in 1944, Roy Spence and his twin brother, Noel, became fans of the American science-fiction B-movies of the 1950s and of the work of directors such as Ed Wood, Jack Arnold, William Castle, and Roger Corman. The pair spent their youth at their local cinemas, in particular the Tudor Cinema in Bangor, and thus began their filmmaking journey with Roy as director and special effects creator, and Noel acting as distributor.

As Northern Ireland descended into the Troubles of the 1970s, Spence built his house and private film studio, surrounded by his collection of antique Wurlitzer jukeboxes. His work was distributed mainly via small film clubs and regional and national film circuits, and it often appeared in Movie Maker – a popular magazine dedicated to small and medium gauge filmmaking. While Spence has never had his work theatrically released, the two brothers opened two cinemas, the Tudor and the Excelsior in Comber each becoming destinations for cinephiles across the world.

Over the past decade there has been a renewed appreciation of his work and his films are considered to be of national significance. Through a joint initiative set by the British Film Institute, Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Institute, a curated selection of 22 films from this collection is now available on the IFI Archive Player. His entire filmography is now preserved at the IFI Irish Film Archive in Dublin.

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