Wigan streets plagued by zombies

Zombie students Hannah Jennings, Jessica Rowan, Lauren Clements-Paterson, Megan Clements-Paterson, Connor Anderson, Chelsea Makin and Brittany Kearns with director of photography Aaron Rogers, line producer Jen Miller and gaffer Dave Allen

Zombie students Hannah Jennings, Jessica Rowan, Lauren Clements-Paterson, Megan Clements-Paterson, Connor Anderson, Chelsea Makin and Brittany Kearns with director of photography Aaron Rogers, line producer Jen Miller and gaffer Dave Allen

Zombies have been spotted on the streets of Wigan!

But fear not, it’s all part of a major new motion picture that’s currently being filmed on location in Wigan and Leigh.

Georgia Taylor filming a scene

Georgia Taylor filming a scene

More than 100 movie professionals and students keen to break into the industry are spending the next month filming the 90-minute epic at locations across Wigan Borough.

Entitled The Hellions, the film is a comedy horror action thriller that’s big on shocks and big on laughs. Think Shaun Of The Dead meets The Goonies and you’ve got the winning formula.

The Hellions is the latest production from the hugely successful British Youth Film Academy’s (BYFA) Summer School. Based at Runshaw College, the BYFA encourages young people from all over the North West and beyond to get hands-on experience of the the movie making industry by working alongside professionals.

It has previously produced 14 films, many of which have gone on to be released and receive critical acclaim.

Head of the BYFA Martin Gaskell, explains: “This project is one of a kind. It allows young people to get a foot in the door of this exciting industry whether they want to be in front of the screen or behind the scenes. They work alongside professional actors and crew members and learn about every aspect of the film-making industry.”

Students aged between 16 and 21 have come from a host of North West colleges, including Wigan and Leigh College and the borough’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA). Young people have also travelled from as far afield as Italy and Spain to take part in the project.

Martin adds: “The idea behind the project is to put the North West on the film-making map both in terms of creating a hot bed of young talent and in showcasing the region as a great location. Many features set in Britain still use London and the South East as their location so we want to let the industry know about all the great opportunities our region has to offer. If we can attract more film-makers to the North West it would have a really positive effect on the region’s economy.”

And The Hellions is a real Wigan affair. It is being shot at various iconic locations across the borough including Wigan Pier, Mesnes Park, Haigh Hall and Leigh’s Bedford High School.

The script comes from Wigan-based screenwriting duo Iain Cash and David Stokes. And amongst the many North West acting stars to making appearances in the feature are Wigan’s own Georgia Taylor (Coronation Street, Casualty and Law and Order:UK) and Greg Patmore, who recently appeared alongside Kevin Costner in Hatfield and McCoys.

Georgia, who plays a teacher in the piece, said: “It’s a fantastic project and I’m really excited to be a part of it. The young people involved are very enthusiastic and talented. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to break into the business. It’s also a really great story and is genuinely funny so we’re hoping that it goes on to get a full theatrical release and becomes a big success for Wigan and the North West.”

Director Michael Evans, who hails from nearby Warrington, has previously spent time working in Los Angeles, said: “We have a great cast, lots of well known faces and a fantastic crew. The equipment and cameras we are using are the same ones that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed on, which gives you some idea of the quality of the production. We want the finished feature to be showcased at film festivals across the world but we also believe it’s strong enough for a full theatrical release.”

The finished movie will be premiered at glittering first night showcases in Wigan and Manchester. And whilst filming is already under way, the team behind The Hellions is currently seeking investment from sponsors to make the dream of a cinematic release a reality and to keep the project going.

Producer Jonathon Kay from Manchester-based Northstar Digital, said: “We are really excited about this project because of its potential to put our region on the film-making map. We are looking at different funding options and need a further £10,000 to ensure the film gets a theatrical release. We would love to work with Wigan and North West companies who are keen to invest in the project and the future of film making in our region. Depending on the size of the investment, we would be willing to credit companies and individuals and even offer Executive Producer status.”

Previous BYFA summer school projects have enjoyed funding from The Co-op but this has now ended.

Martin Gaskell says they are also keen to hear from long-term investment partners: “The Hellions is our most marketable film to date and we are hoping for big things from it,” said Martin. “However, because of the loss of our funding, it could also be our last. It takes £90,000 to keep the project rolling each year and we are actively seeking new investment partners. The reward would be to help secure and establish a motion picture industry in the North West.”

For more information visit the crowdfunding page: https://igg.me/at/HellionsBYFA/x/14419228

For more information about the project email Martin Gaskell at the BYFA: info@byfa.co.uk or contact Producer Jonathan Kay on 0771 047852.