It all started some 40 years ago - way back in 1964 - with a £50.00 maternity pay cheque, a great deal of hard work and sheer determination.
Since then Derann (the name is made up from the husband and wife team who started the company 'Derek and Anne') have gone from strength to strength and are now the largest independent electric retailer in Dudley and the worlds biggest Super 8mm film distributor.
The family owned business was set up when cinema projectionist Derek Simmonds and his wife Anne, started hiring out 8mm films from a bedroom at their Stourbridge home. Soon the couple had built up a steadily growing army of customers - many of which still buy all their electrical goods from Derek's son Adrian who now manages the audio visual side of the business - and the business started to grow and grow.
It was with the issue of an exclusive B pictures movie 'City of the Dead' which could only be rented from Derann, that proved a major step forward. The response was amazing and Derek realised that it was the selling of movies not renting, that would put Derann on the map.
After securing a deal with MCA - the very first package movie bearing Deranns name being 'Psycho' - Derek went on to make a deal with EMI and release the best selling film ever issued by Derann. This was an edited version of 'The Scars of Dracula' starring Christopher Lee and sold well over 1,400 copies (available at that time in both colour and black & white).
Derek always believed that by keeping as much of the production of 8mm prints "in house" careful quality control would also be maintained. To this end Derann still carry out all their sound transfer and magnetic striping. The 8mm prints are made at a high quality lab.
With a steady stream of EMI releases under his belt, Derek added more and more lucrative film deals to his now impressive catalogue - the biggest of these being United Artists, 20th. Century Fox and Disney, although Disney did take some 14 years to succumb.
Now the company supply all of the classic and up to date Disney animated features on 8mm not only to collectors in Britain, but also across Europe and the rest of the world. Derann are privileged to be one of the few companies in the world that Disney has loaned out negative material to.
In the late seventies the whole country witnessed a dramatic change to the viewing habits of the people, now for the very first time they were able to record items off the television set - the video age was born!
It wasn't too long after that the film companies would see this as a huge revenue boost for them and so the pre recorded video was released. Very soon video libraries were springing up everywhere, but who had the largest library in Dudley? - it was Derann boasting an impressive 10,000 titles. At this period Derek decided that if he could release 8mm film successfully, then why not video?
Over the next seven years Derann released over 110 titles on both VHS BETAMAX, and V2000 formats. Amongst the most popular of these were the Alistair Maclean thriller 'Caravan to Vaccares', the hugely successful 'Cannibal' and a soft porn romp with a very young Sylvester Stallone aptly titled 'The Italian Stallion'
It was at this time that Steve Simmonds Derek's eldest son (who's maternity money had started the whole company) decided to branch out and form his own company Derann Video Facilities, specializing in video tape duplication, mastering, editing and general production work - (some of the Derann Video Facilities step aerobic, cooking and DIY videos can be bought from such places as Woolworth and W H Smith).
Along with the advent of video Derann decided it was time to go into the electronics market with a new audiovisual department. Sony and JVC products were amongst the very first to be sold.
It wasn't until the mid eighties that terrestrial companies made a dramatic improvement in the sound quality that was transmitted - stereo was at last available to people in the comfort of their own homes. 'It was at this time' comments Adrian ' that we noticed the general public had started to return to the cinemas. Pictures were getting bigger and better with spectacular computer generated effects and people wanted to try and create the feeling within their own home of the experience of once again 'going to the movies', rather like my father had noticed some 25 years ago when he started the company and was hiring out 8mm movies.
People were buying larger and larger sets, so we decided to go one better and started to sell liquid crystal projectors. This enables people to show, from all the various formats available - television, video, laser vision disc and now DVD, a 6,7 or 8 foot picture onto a tripod or wall mounted screen. The quality of which is absolutely stunning.
We now have a fully functional demonstration room with Dolby digital sound and an impressive 6 foot picture. "Everything has come full circle" comments Adrian "people still want a big picture and find that by running digital technology alongside film they get the best of both worlds, fantastic sound and picture and rare and interesting titles unavailable on other formats".
With the advent of digital terrestrial television programs the picture and sound quality has once again leaped forward and as usual Derann are at the forefront with an excellent shop display area and knowledgeable, friendly staff. "We pride ourselves on being a family owned business" comments Derek " and strive to provide our customers the best after sales service in the area - after all anyone can sell a box".
Derann organize one of the most popular of all Film Collectors Conventions, this is held at the Savoy Hotel, Blackpool each November, and is the most eagerly awaited event in the film collectors calendar. In addition, a new Film Collectors Convention is now being held at The Clarendon Suites, Edgbaston, Birmingham each March.
We send out regular newsletters and new release information to all our regular customers, do make sure that your name is on the mailing list!, you are then assured of being kept fully up to date with not only new release news, but also what is happening on the "Film Convention" scene. We also publish a magazine for film collectors, entitled "Film For The Collector, this is issued about once every 3 or 4 months, subscription rates are £14.00 per four issues.
Our regular Open Days are always very popular, with hundreds of films & accessories on sale, and films being shown throughout the day in our cinema. We also organize the now famous and popular Northern Film Collectors Convention, this takes place in Blackpool, every March and November. Derann also support and attend the British Film Collectors Convention, these are organized by Keith Wilton, and are held twice each year, usually April and October in Ealing. Within the magazine "Film For The Collector", is a magazine entitled "Super 8 Film Review", this magazine is edited and produced by Keith Wilton, and is packed with honest film reviews, so if you want to find out about a release - this is the section of the magazine to read. From time to time we also import super 8 releases, usually these are very limited prints, so all of the titles available will not appear in our catalogue, due to the limited quantity of prints available. For these rare releases you should refer to our news letters.
We hope you enjoy the rest of your stay here at the Website and feel free to drop back at anytime to find out the latest happenings at the Worlds Biggest Super 8mm Film distributor - Derann.
Derek Simmonds - Founder Derann Film Services
In Loving Memory 1935-2002