Wigan film director's epic new movie with 50 storylines to get its world premiere

A record-breaking Wigan film director has co-ordinated one of the most extraordinary and ambitious movies ever made.
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The Impact will receive its world premiere later this month and boasts no fewer than 50 separately written and directed storylines!

But this crowd-created feature film, pulled together by Billinge-born director-producer Chris Jones is connected by one thing: a meteor strike.

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The action opens with the President of America (Olivia Williams) giving a televised speech to the world (written by Joe Eszterhas of Basic Instinct fame) in which she sets out the premise of the movie… Nothing will survive.

Olivia Williams as the US PresidentOlivia Williams as the US President
Olivia Williams as the US President

The film poses the question: what would you do if you knew that you only had two hours to live?

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This question was answered by thousands of screenwriters who wrote short scripts that were filmed and edited together to create The Impact.

It is a fascinating tapestry of interwoven stories from diverse voices around the world which has been eight years in the making (it was meant to be two, says Chris, but a real life apocalypse interposed itself in the creative process).

Chris Jones directs Olivia WilliamsChris Jones directs Olivia Williams
Chris Jones directs Olivia Williams
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As well as Olivia Williams, another famous face to figure in the movie is the late John Challis, best known as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses.

Incredibly this isn’t entirely new territory for Chris who gained international acclaim with his Guerilla Film-maker’s handbook series whose tomes are on the book shelves of many an amateur and professional film-maker from Wigan to Hollywood.

For in 2014 he entered the Guinness Book of Records with a similarly compiled film called 50 Kisses all of whose scenes were set on Valentine’s Day and featuring a kiss. The fact that it had 51 screenwriters secured it the honour of having the most creative input into the writing of a feature movie.

Chris runs the London Screenwriters’ Festival and it was this which launched the initiative to get as many creative people as possible their first break and a “produced” IMDb credit with The Impact.

Some of Impact's cast and crew in the Oval Office setSome of Impact's cast and crew in the Oval Office set
Some of Impact's cast and crew in the Oval Office set
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Some 2,800 scripts were submitted from around the world to make the final selected 50 that were released to filmmakers. It was back in 2016 that a team of eight writers and filmmakers descended upon the London Screenwriters’ Festival offices in Ealing Studios to assess the submissions.

Nearly 100 short films were produced and submitted to be part of The Impact, some made by the people who wrote them, others that were taken up by other directors. In some cases more than one director made the same mini-film.

Over 1,500 new entrant film crew, producers and directors were involved in the process, and from across the globe.

The Impact sets two new world records for the most screenwriters and most directors on a feature film. It may also set the record for longest end credits!

Joe EszterhasJoe Eszterhas
Joe Eszterhas

Chris said: “I am very proud of the film.

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"It’s very strong in some areas and less strong in others, but it’s a unique experience to watch.

"It’s thought-provoking and quite moving. It hits you harder than you expect.

"Putting everything together was quite an ask with so many people involved, many with their own ideas about how things should go. Sometimes it was like herding cats!

"But one of the most fulfilling aspects of this is that is giving so many people a first taste of making a film. And when you have so many contributors it helps to share the risk too. Everyone does their own bit of marketing for instance.”

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As the film-making phase approached, the team knew they needed another script for the opening scene of the movie where the President of the United States addresses the planet and sets up the premise.

Screenwriting legend Eszterhas agreed to write the two-page opening script, and Olivia Williams agreed to play the president.

The speech was shot on a reconstructed interior set of The White House Oval Office at RAF Coltishall in Norfolk (owned by October Films), providing both a killer opening to the film AND the speech that filmmakers could integrate into their own films.

Chris added: “We could not have asked for more. A killer script by an iconic screenwriter. A world class actor to play the president. And a fantastic location. It REALLY set the tone of ‘excellence’ for the entire project.

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“The 10th London Screenwriters’ Festival was scheduled to take place in April 2020, and given that the entire concept of the festival is to bring 1,000 international guests together in a single space for three days, the news for us was genuinely catastrophic.

“The festival pivoted online and delivered a month-long extravaganza in Spring 2020, but Covid decimated the entire business. Only in the last months of 2021 could work resume on The Impact.”

In doing so, Chris said they had the very strange sensation that the project was somewhat prophetic.

On May 31 The Impact will be premiered to a packed house at the Genesis Cinema in London.

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The red-carpet event will also include the Impact50 Awards where the "best in category” winners will be announced and where the official world record for the most writers and directors on a feature film will be recorded.

Chris said: “It’s been an extraordinary journey – with an actual apocalypse in the middle!

"The film itself feels even more poignant now, with covid hopefully behind us, but also with what’s happening in the Ukraine and the looming challenges of climate change.

"We have also lost some key members of the community over the years, which again brings into stark focus one of the messages of the film: nothing is permanent, let the small stuff slide and live in the moment.”

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