The first feature from a Newcastle-based film-maker draws inspiration from his time in UK indie bands. Wendy Mitchell reports.
About a year ago UK film-maker Ashley Horner was facing a tough time in preparation for his first feature, The Other Possibility. 'Trying to prep the week's shoot in Berlin during the (football) World Cup was fairly tough - with no money, temperatures of 35 degrees (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and just a borrowed bicycle to get me around town,' he recalls.
The situation is looking much better now as the feature is nearly complete and Horner and his partner in Pinball Films, Michael Mitchell, are travelling to Cannes to meet with sales agents and distributors.
The Other Possibility follows a young German music journalist, who travels to the UK in search of her father's identity.
The story lets Horner draw on his experience as a former member of UK indie bands such as Pale Saints and Edsel Auctioneer. 'I have a strong understanding of the world of music, which is where some of this story is set,' he explains. But the story also has a wider resonance. 'It's about setting out to chase a dream and discovering that when the dream comes true it may not be what you want or need.'
Horner and Mitchell, set up their production company, Pinball Films, in 1999 in the north-eastern English town of Newcastle. They have produced more than a dozen shorts (including Horner's Rob Of The Rovers), so the time was right for their first feature.
After a few years working on-and-off on Peter Dillon's script, within 12 months the project was financed and shooting. The funding for the low-budget film came from private equity, an equipment deal, and regional agency Northern Film & Media.
With rising German actress Nora von Waldstatten (Low Profile) in the lead, the film shot for 23 days in Newcastle and Berlin in summer 2006.
Working without much money also meant working without much time. 'The main constraint with low-budget film-making is time,' Mitchell says. 'Time for prep, time during the production, and time in post. Getting smart with the script early on is the best way to get the most for your budget.'
At Pinball, Horner and Mitchell develop projects individually - Horner says at the moment he is looking for personal, sub-cultural stories, while Mitchell is looking towards bigger international projects.
Mitchell says: 'Ashley and I have workedtogether for many years and we seem to have a strong understanding of each other's strengths. Also after so many years, ego israrely a problem as we are both striving for the same thing - strong cinematic stories told in an interesting way.'
Next for Horner will be an erotic drama called Fuckart, which he is developing with writer Sean Conway. Mitchell has several larger-budget films in early development, including a caper film, a horror project and a comedy.
They see their home in Newcastle as a plus not just for lower costs but for creativity as well. 'It means that you look further than your doorstop for stories, and spend more time watching and operating within Europe and the European tradition of cinema,' Horner says.