Writer Paul cannes reach the top

Horror author Paul Finch who will be reading his work in some of the reputedly haunted parts of Haigh Hall
Horror author Paul Finch who will be reading his work in some of the reputedly haunted parts of Haigh Hall

HE travelled to the Cannes Film Festival as a wide-eyed young movie fan, but later this year, Wigan author Paul Finch will return as one of its stars.

The award-winning writer will be on the other side of the world famous red carpet, leading into the hallowed halls of the Cote d’Azur’s Palais des Festivals for the premiere of The Devil’s Rock, which was conceived and scripted in the study of his Standish home.

The former local paper journalist says he is thrilled that the Chameleon Pictures horror movie, directed by Kiwi Paul Campion – who worked on Lord of the Rings and King Kong – is getting such a prestigious launch into the market place. And he is delighted that the President of the Jury at this year’s 64th festival, who will decide the winner of the famed Palme d’Or, is one of his all-time screen actor heroes – the legendary Robert De Niro.

Set in the Channel Islands, but filmed in New Zealand, the film is a World War Two chiller, which draws on Hitler’s known fascination with the occult, and claims that he attempted to harness the powers of darkness to the Nazi cause.

It stars Kiwi actors Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland and the stunning Gina Varela. Cannes Film Festival runs from May 11 to 22.

Paul, 47, can thank the boundless energy of much-loved pet Labrador Molly for finding the inspiration to write the original story.

His creativity starts to flow on long dog walks – which is why he always has a dictaphone ready to dictate into.

He has half a dozen other scripts which various studios have now ‘taken an option’ on, which are yet to start production, and has written 14 horror novels and TV scripts ranging from episodes of The Bill and Heartbeat to the popular BBC TV sci-fi Dr Who.

The son of a Bafta award-winning TV scriptwriter the late Brian Finch, he admitted: “I have just found out that The Devil’s Rock will premiere at Cannes, which is just fantastic.

“It’s a strange thing really, because I have had films in development with various studios for 10 years or more.

“But this was written over the winter of 2009 and 2010, much of it while walking my dog through the deep snows around Standish in the space of about two months.

“The idea for the film was thrashed out with Paul Campion over bangers and mash at The Lychgate in Standish, when he came up to see me about various film ideas we were throwing about.

“Suddenly, the subject of World War Two came up, and I had a novel published called The Retreat, about a Nazi unit being forced into a retreat from Stalingrad encountering a haunted hunting lodge in Russia, and it flowed from there.

“The Channel Islands has quite a dark history and executed more witches than any other part of the United Kingdom, and so The Devil’s Rock was born.

“Its got two screening at Cannes, on May 13 and May 15, and I’ve been warned that it can be quite an overwhelming experience with so may film industry execs and buyers there.

“At the end of the day, it is a big part of the business and hard work if you do it properly, despite the glamorous location, where you can hopefully crack one of the most complicated aspects of film, which is winning a decent distribution for the product, which is all important.”