North East primed for film and TV awards success

Posted: 13th January 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron may have clashed with the industry over his call for the UK to make more commercial films recently but a diverse slate of North East film and television projects are in the running for a range of prestigious prizes during the busy awards season.

The filmmakers will be hoping for success in the vein of Compulsion – which scooped the top prize at the London Short Film Festival – click here to read the full story.

Broadcast Awards heading to the North East?

Feature length BBC Two ‘Busby Babes’ drama United is up for ‘Best Single Drama’ at the Broadcast Awards early next month. Watched by nearly 4 million viewers on Easter Sunday last year, David Tennant, Dougray Scott and Jack O’Connell’s starred in this dramatisation of the 1958 Munich air tragedy which claimed the lives of 22 players, coaching staff, supporters, journalists and embassy workers. The story centres on Northumberland-born Bobby Charlton, the youngest of the Babes, who went on to become a hero of England’s 1966 World Cup victory.

The World Productions drama, which has been released as a feature film overseas after receiving a special gala screening with key cast and crew at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema, was brought to the North East after a £150k funding boost from Northern Film & Media’s Finance for Business – North East Creative Content Fund partnership with Northstar Ventures. 

Directed by James Marsh, United was shot almost entirely in the North East at locations including Ashington, Newcastle’s Assembly Rooms and Tynemouth’s Metro Station. A former-RAF airfield in Northumberland doubled up for the Munich runway, scene of the darkest period in Manchester United’s history. Filming also took place at Beamish Living Museum in Durham which was modernised to provide an authentic representation of 1950’s England.

Also up for a Broadcast Award is BBC Three’s Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands which has been shortlisted in the ‘Best Popular Factual’ category.

Filmed after receiving support from Northern Film & Media, the six-part series followed seven newly qualified junior doctors on the wards of Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and General Hospitals. The thought-provoking fly-on-the-wall drama of new doctors tackling life and death situations became BBBC Three’s highest ever rating factual entertainment programme when 1.44 million people watched the third episode.

Completing the trio of North East Broadcast Award contenders is 32 Brinkburn St, which will compete for the ‘Best Daytime Programme’ prize. Penned by Newcastle-based writer Karen Laws, the drama became one of the BBC’s most successful daytime shows of 2011. Developed after a BBC Writersroom day in Newcastle held with Northern Film & Media, the show cuts between 1931 and the present day to explore a family secret that affects different generations of the same family living at the same address. 

North East film to secures Slamdance premiere

Though focusing on generations 80 years apart, the drama draws parallels between the 1930’s England and the present day such as the uneasy coalition government and economic woes.

For one new North East feature film, the road to recognition has just begun.

Unconditional, described by leading trade magazine Screen International as a “psycho love story”, will have its US premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah later this month.

Written by BAFTA winner Joe Fisher and produced by Stone City Films, Unconditional is the tale of teenage twins Owen (Christian Cooke) and Kristen (Madeleine Clark), their disabled mum Maureen (Melanie Hill) and an encounter with the tough, charming Liam (Harry McEntire). A darkly comedic chain of events encompassing spurned affections, cross dressing, identity, ultimatums, violence and sexual discovery follows as the film draws to a surreal, frightening and funny climax.

Unconditional was filmed on location  across the North East including Newcastle’s West End, Sunderland’s Roker Pier and South Shields after receiving backing from Northern Film & Media’s investment partnership with Northern Film & Media.

Several industry decision makers have already leant their support to the film. Industry heavyweight Chris Collins from the BFI described the film as “fantastic” whilst BBC Drama executive producer praised the “beautiful direction”.

The screening is the first chance for film fanatics and buyers on the other side of the pond to see the film as Unconditional flies the flag for the North East at Slamdance – the festival which has grown from subversive beginnings nearly twenty years ago to a key fixture in the international film calendar.

Backing North East film and TV

“Seeing so many North East productions in the running for recognition at awards and festivals across the globe demonstrates the potential and wealth of creative talent we have here,” says Tom Harvey, Northern Film & Media’s chief executive.

 “We are thrilled to have played a role in developing these talents and helping to realise a diverse range of projects that have made an impact outside of this region.

 "Whilst it is ultimately more important to have a constant turnover of production and support  to develop the North East’s most exciting talent, awards provide an important calling card both for the individuals involved and for the reputation of the region as a hub of creative activity.

“Hopefully this year’s crop will be the start of things to come. Song for Marion is already being tipped as an Oscar contender for 2013, plus we have high hopes for a slate of crime thrillers such as The Liability, The Man Inside and Interview with a Hitman, which will be released next year. We also have new series’ of Vera, Inspector George Gently and Tracy Beaker Returns to look forward to.

“Focused public support has been important in delivering these projects and we are quickly gathering mounting evidence that the creative industries can play an important role in rebalancing this region’s economy,” concludes Harvey, reflecting on the tough public spending decisions that will determine the economic complexion of the region in years to come.

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