Films switch focus to Hull's 'can-do' creative spirit

It's fair to say Hull is no Hullywood. But at the moment small budget films made with a distinctly local touch seem all the rage.

The film had 15 locations and 25 crew
The film had 15 locations and 25 crew

Julian Woodford's feature-length coming-of-age movie is the latest to be wrapped up.

"The production company, cast and crew is from Hull and East Yorkshire. It is very much a local production," he says.

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With a "micro, micro" budget of less than £1,000, One Summer When You Went Away relied on the generosity of everyone from local bus company EYMS who lent them a double decker to the free use of city watering hole, JazBar on Lowgate.

The case of One Summer: from left to right Kenneth Mguni, Laurence Ellerker, and Laura Peterson

Its principal actors are young and keen - living up to the film's message: "if if you believe in yourself, and have the talent, do it."

They include Kenneth Mguni, who came to the city to see what City of Culture was all about, from Zimbabwe, via Dublin.

Woodford, who wrote One Summer and also the short film The Bagpipe Maker's Baby, shot at Skipsea last year on the East Coast , which has already been shown at film festivals in the US and Europe, believes we are going to see more movies made in Hull.

Two years ago familiar Hull landmarks were given a wartime twist and hundreds became extras in Royal Night Out, starring Sarah Gadon as Princess Elizabeth. Also shot in the city in 2015 was ID2, a sequel to 1995 cult football hooliganism classic, ID.

Director Chris Hopkin storyboarding

Last weekend saw the premiere of Last Laugh, shot in Hull and Whitby and written by John Godber, featuring the playwright for the first time in a screen role. Next month will see the filming of B-Negative, a vampire comedy, again in Hull.

Woodford said: "You could say with Royal Night Out, ID2 and to a lesser extent Last Laugh, there are examples of Hull being on the radar for film. They have raised the level of expectations about what can be done within the city.

"There is expertise, whether it's cast or crew to fill the gaps for these professional productions. At the same time it has encouraged people to do their own thing."

The producer on One Summer, Emily Brown, is on a paid internship as part of a development programme, facilitated by Hull film-maker and Bafta award winner Chris Hees and Bridgeway Films, and funded by British Film Institute and Creative Skillset.

The case of One Summer: from left to right Kenneth Mguni, Laurence Ellerker, and Laura Peterson

"It meant she could work on pre-production for around a month, do the shoot for two weeks and then some post production. It's been invaluable," he added.

Although more ambitious in scale - the film had 25 crew and 15 locations, he says it was easier in some ways than his first short movie, which involved building sets on a crumbling East Coast clifftop.

"In this one we used existing locations which we dressed. James Dobson, who is ex Hull Truck, was on props and he basically helped set dress everything," he added.

The film was partly inspired by his experiences living in a high rise on Bilton Grange estate from where he could see Withernsea lighthouse and meeting "incredibly talented" youngsters, failed by the education system.

Director Chris Hopkin storyboarding

A key part of the film - in which the three main characters - Danny (played by Laurence Ellerker), Isabella (Laura Peterson) was shot along the Hull to Hornsea cycle track, once a railway. The city is enclosed by a ring of estates, to the east and north, and there's a particularly stark contrast as you go from tower blocks and houses almost instantly into ploughed fields, he says.

The film is about confidence - and the lack of it - with Danny needing a push to realise his dreams.

Woodford said: "When I first came to Hull I found there were lots of highly intelligent, talented people going through the education system in Hull, who came out the other end with no qualifications, who could quite easily do something entirely brilliant in a different situation.

"The message of the film is if you believe in yourself and you have the talent - do it."