Yorkshire proves that it’s not all doom and gloom in the filmmaking world
DON’T be fooled by the economic downturn and the slashing of august bodies like the Film Council and Screen Yorkshire – filmmaking is alive and well and booming in Yorkshire. That’s not a dig at my erstwhile colleagues; goodness knows the industry needs them as much as it ever did, and maybe Creative England will do what it says on the tin. But there is some genuine underground filmmaking happening all across our region, and even over the hills in the land forever known as The Other County. And, what’s more, it’s being done for tuppence, with energy, grit and stubbornness replacing that most rare of commodities, hard cash.
It seems like the British film industry has been in the doldrums forever. Box office figures, awards and audiences tell a different story but it feels like a perennial struggle to get good product off the starting grid.
Enter the indies. Ignoring The King’s Speech for a moment, there are other movies out there worthy of your attention. Back in March, Bradford International Film Festival showcased half a dozen locally-made pictures straddling Yorkshire, Manchester and Rochdale.
One was Harold’s Going Stiff, Sheffielder Keith Wright’s comic (and occasionally bloody) tale of a man slowly turning into a zombie. Harold is now enjoying a wider life on the festival circuit, winning the Audience Award at last weekend’s Celluloid Screams horror film festival in Sheffield. It’s well worth a watch – low budget or not. It’s imaginative, scary, funny and a tearjerker. What else could you want for your money?
Then there’s Safehouse Pictures, also in Sheffield, with husband-and-wife team Damian and Nicola Morter making not one, not two but three separate horror shorts – A Father for the Dead, The Dead Inside and The Dying Breed – in their “zombie eschatrilogy”.
That’s three films, three months, 300 actors and 3,000 gallons of (fake) blood. And all on a budget that might well have been in minus figures. To continue the horror theme, Alex Chandon made the riotous crowd-pleaser Inbred on location in Thirsk and turned in a horror/comedy that ranks as an instant classic.
Jo ( This is England) Hartley takes the lead along with Yorkshire veteran Seamus O’neill as a murderous pub landlord with a nasty sideline in stand-up.
Inbred opened Celluloid Screams and will also play at Leeds International Film Festival. It’s a viable movie with impressively mounted special effects, some OTT shocks, fine acting and a cameo from Emmerdale’s Dominic Brunt as chainsaw-wielding brute, Podge.
And it’s not just horror that’s having a revival. Look out for Tied in Blood, Innocent Crimes, Cricket, Rebels Without a Clue and The Last Days of Edgar Harding on the festival circuit.
They’re all worth a fiver of anyone’s money.