York­shire proves that it’s not all doom and gloom in the film­mak­ing world

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE - TONY EARN­SHAW

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.

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