A TRIO of local cinema enthusiasts are hoping to take the festival circuit by storm after their first feature-length film was premiered in the borough.
Self-taught directors Craig Kendrick, Ivan Meredith and David Wilson created Echoes, a micro-budget psychological thriller about a heating engineer living on an ordinary northern housing estate who begins to have strange and disturbing visions and dreams, in their spare time over four years.
The film had a successful premiere at Cineworld in Leigh recently, with around 180 people packing out one of the biggest screens in the new multiplex on The Loom development to see the fruits of the team’s labour.
Craig, 43, from Howe Bridge, said: “We’re getting some great feedback and we’ve had lots of postings on our Facebook wall, so that’s very positive.”
Ivan, 38, from Leigh, added: “I’ve had people approaching me intrigued by the plot, and people have said it was beyond their expectations of a zero-budget film. We’re getting the feeling we have done something right, and a lot of hard work has paid off.”
The directorial team, who have no formal training and had never even produced a short film before embarking on Echoes, are now hoping to secure more outings for their film before hitting the independent festivals later this year.
Craig said: “We are getting a second showing organised, and have already discussed it with Cineworld. We’re also thinking of trying to have a screening as a fundraising evening for one of the amateur dramatic societies which provided a lot of the cast.
“We will probably have another screening around mid-February.
“We’ve applied for the Bradford Film Festival and a festival at Crystal Palace, and we wrote off to Cannes too, but their idea of a micro-budget film was anything under £100,000 and we bought some equipment and paid everyone else in ham sandwiches.
“It’s mind-blowing to think we could be up against a film with a £100,000 budget.”
Craig admits that making the transition from enthusiasts to film makers has involved an eye-opening introduction to the industry behind the cinema screen, but says the three of them are still enjoying every minute of living their dream.
Their experiences securing public outings for Echoes have also led the three directors to consider trying to work with other creative talent around the area to put on an independent film festival.
He said: “It’s not as easy as we first thought, and we really didn’t know what to expect after filming, but it’s all good experience.
“One thing we have found is that zero-budget film-makers have zero-budget voices too. We think there are other projects out there like ours you never hear about, so if we could contact other directors we could try and get a miniature festival for all our work.
“They already do something similar at Cineworld in other parts of the country, so I don’t see why Leigh couldn’t have one.”
Craig says they will soon begin work on a second film, bearing in mind some of the things they have learned making Echoes.
He said: “We want to make a short film next as it’s much easier to promote. Most festivals prefer short films, and you can load them up on the Internet and generate viewings that way.
“We’re also exploring other thematic ideas as our influences are very varied. Echoes was quite slow-burning, so we’d like to do something more fast-paced where you really have to keep up with the story, and something with more action in.
“But we won’t just be making a film because we’d like to choreograph a fight sequence or whatever, it will have to serve the characters and the story, because that’s what people connect with.”
For more information, visit www.echoesfilm.info