This coming Thursday (October 1st) the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle will play host to an extra special North East film that promises to have cinema-goers on the edge of their seats.
“Vampires” is the debut feature film by Newcastle-based writer/director Richard Johnstone that will enjoy a glitzy city centre cast and crew premiere to mark an epic three-year journey to get the script from the page to the big screen.
The 90-minute fright-fest was filmed in the region on a mostly self-financed micro budget; and took just four weeks to shoot with the principle locations being in Northumberland at Featherstone Castle, Haltwhistle.
The horror film consists of an impressive local cast and crew that includes actor Bill Fellows (who plays “John T. Richardson”). There are actors also from as far afield as Australia and Syria. In a nutshell, the plot centres around five couples who sign up to undergo medical testing but fall victim to terrifying vampires.
Richard Johnstone has worked on the film with his production partner at 24:25 Films, producer, Steve O’Brien. For nearly two decades the pair have been producing television and short film projects including “Black and White”, “Hoax” and “Billy’s Present”. Richard has also cut his teeth in the film industry by working on the film sets of big budget films including “Purely Belter”.
After penning, filming and editing the debut feature film – Richard and Steve had to then go on the long journey of trying to find an international sales agent to pitch the movie worldwide. They worked hard and came up trumps at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where they secured a deal with Cinemavault, a Canadian International Sales company.
The horror film experienced a couple of reinventions as it was originally called “Bloodless” and later “Bloodlust” with the sales agents finally deciding on “Vampires” to attract the interest of the world market. The quality of the North East shot project has continued to shine through as it enjoyed industry screenings at the Berlin, Toronto and AFI Film Festivals.
In 2014, 24:25 Films also received support from Northern Film & Media’s “Market Access Fund” to attend a screening at Fantasporto in Portugal, where both Richard and Steve were on-hand to introduce the film to European buyers.
Richard, originally from Carlisle, now lives in Whitley Bay with his wife Andrea and two children Neve (aged 5) and Charlie (aged 4). He studied at Newcastle College on the Time Based Media course, where he first met Steve O’Brien. Richard currently works as a match day floor manager for a television production company at St James’ Park.
Richard, aged 42, said: “It is a wonderful achievement for any filmmaker to see their debut feature film hit the big screen; and it’s made even more special that cast, crew, family and friends will also get the chance to share this moment with me.
“Getting a film off the ground can be a daunting and time consuming feat, with some projects taking years to materialise. The process for Vampires was no different as there were a number of hurdles and hoops to jump through. But it’s totally worth it to make a film for an audience to enjoy in the cinema or in their front room.
“I would encourage any filmmaker to always strive to make the films they believe in as there’s no better feeling in the world to see your film beamed onto a cinema screen. The UK and North East film industry is still brimming with unique and creative talent but it’s down to perseverance, grit and determination for dreams to actually be realised.”
Richard and Steve hope that ‘Vampires’ will be the perfect springboard to enable their next feature film project to get produced. “ShortFellas” is a light hearted comedy about five dwarves who try to pull off a £5million Newcastle diamond heist; to pay for a lifesaving operation for their getaway driver’s daughter. The film will feature in the lead role “Willow, Life is Short, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Celebrity Squares” superstar, Warwick Davis – who is also executive producer on the film.
A Kick Starter campaign is being set up to try and raise the £500,000 needed to get the film to the big screen. A trailer has been produced to give audiences a taster of what ShortFellas has to offer. This can be seen at www.shortfellasthemovie.co.uk
“Vampires” is already on general sale in Australia with other countries expecting to follow suit by the end of this year.
The eerie, suspense horror will receive its UK DVD release on Monday 12th October with the film being available to pre-order on Amazon.
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