My filmmaking started when I made a short horror film for £10. I took on the roles of writer, director, DOP, actor, editor, colourist and marketer. The original purpose of it was to provide me with showreel material for my acting but the actress I was working with asked if I’d ever considered directing as it was the best experience she’d ever had. I gave this a lot of thought and when it was finished I submitted it to film festivals to see what the outcome would be. It ended up winning several awards and had a standing ovation at a BAFTA accredited festival where it was nominated for Best Film. Proudly, the actress went on to get a place at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and cites the experience as giving her an edge in filming work.
So, after that success, I wanted to go bigger and hone my skills, specifically on the writing and directing front. I brought an incredible cast and crew together and got the rights to make an adaptation of a Stephen King story. I purposefully overhauled the entire plot to set it apart from other adaptations, especially as King wanted a copy upon completion and I wanted to show my writing prowess. We ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and were able to make a film I am very proud of. Not only is it dominating on the festival circuit (recently showing at the Chinese Theatre in LA), it allowed me to meet some incredible people. I’ve even built up a great relationship with Encore Post in London who now do the colour grading for all my work.
After such a fantastic experience I wanted to make a film where I could give back to all those who had supported me, so I self-funded a Christmas short, which I released online for everyone to enjoy, like a filmic Christmas present. This dark fantasy take on an ancient yuletide tradition has had 10K views on YouTube currently and has a treatment for a feature in with AMC’s Shudder channel (by their request).
We have recently secured £10k from the National Lottery to better our local community in some way. Our aim is to use those funds to make a short film with a twist. Alongside our crew, we will take 8-10 18-year-old girls who wouldn’t usually be exposed to these opportunities from a couple of local schools and have them shadow a member of our team for the duration of the shoot. We’re hoping this 10 minute short will be shot over 5 days and at the end of it, these young women will have a dual credit with their mentor, which will hopefully allow them to go out into the world and secure more work and be the beginning of fruitful careers.
Why decide to do this? Well, I hope you can tell from my other ventures that I am very passionate about using my position to help others realise their own goals. The reason why I have specifically targeted women for this project is for a number of reasons. Firstly, I tend to write more female-centric stories and work closely with a female producer. This all came to a head recently, when I was asked to be a judge for a horror film festival. After the winners were named we all had to pose for photos and I noticed that every single winner was male. This has fuelled my desire to try and push more talented young women into the field and if, by the end of this project, there are potentially 10 more female filmmakers going into the industry I will consider this a success.
Although they will be getting the credit, we would like to do more. I have good contacts at Odeon, so I’m hoping to put on a special premiere for them and their families, submit to film festivals and hold a special showing at the Worcester Festival, where they can sit in front of international filmmakers and lead the q&as about their experiences on the shoot. Finally, I’ll use my contacts with the BBC and Guardian to really push the coverage of the film to highlight them to the industry.
The final arrow in my quiver is Worcester Film Festival. Filmmaking in the Midlands is on the rise and with people like Steven Knight building a soundstage in Birmingham, I’m hoping that will just grow. It’s partly because of this that I launched the studio and the festival. If I can give creatives a place to go so close to Birmingham and bring filmmakers the world over to my festival, I stand a real chance at changing the culture in my city for the better. Also, by having a morning dedicated to Worcester’s film students, maybe I can build retention in the educational institutions, so talented creatives don’t feel they have to leave. I didn’t want to just put on a festival that was a couple of screens and a gala, I wanted it to be a festival in every sense of the word. There will be two screening venues, one modern and one historic, that reflect our changing city, an awards gala at the impressive Guildhall, movie-themed stalls throughout the centre, a pub/cafe crawl that will take you through the decades of film, live music, special horror showings in old cells, workshops (some run by the prestigious DRP Group), q&a's and networking evenings