Preston - coming to a screen near you
PUBLISHED: 12:16 15 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:00 20 February 2013
As it gears up for Guild year, Preston is coming to a screen near you. Amanda Griffiths reports Photography by Kirsty Thompson
The print version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Lancashire Life
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This interview was filmed on the indoor set of the Media Factory at University of Central Lancashire. It was conducted by Preston College student Mark Aston, on behalf of In Certain Places (incertainplaces.org)
They wont be shivering in their well-shod shoes in Hollywood, but Prestons streets have been buzzing as a group of filmmakers have moved into the city.
One science fiction movie set in the park and the bus station and based on the city and its heritage doesnt exactly turn Preston into a centre for cinematography, but it seems Preston could soon become a firm favourite.
I dont know why more people dont film in Preston, says Shezad Dawood, director of the film, Piercing Brightness.
Its been wonderful. The people have been warm and welcoming, from the staff at the council right through to the extras and crew, many of them from Preston.
The film, due for release at film festivals early next year, is a creative partnership with an organisation called In Certain Places involving the Harris Museum and the University of Central Lancashire.
The programme has been running since 2003, says Elaine Speight, curator of In Certain Places. Its aim is to explore different roles for artists in the city. Its a public art programme and we work with a mix of international and local artists.
Were interested in different ways of thinking about the city and people to engage with it in new ways.
At the end of 2009 the invited Shazed to Preston and said they would like to work with him on a film project.
Shazed is interested in science fiction and the fact is that Lancashire has the biggest number of UFO sightings in the country, says Elaine.
He wrote the script, with a couple of others, especially for Preston. He was thinking about those communities, about the architecture and wanted to really give a sense of the city. Filming included key locations like Avenham Park and the bus station as well as using the old post office in the market square as a main base.
Shezad adds: I wonder if more films will be made here now that people see what is possible. We used recognisable locations - Avenham Park was a major location as well as the bus station. We also shot some footage inside the old Odeon in Fishergate. Its been closed for a long time but there was a nice synergy about using the old place for filming. People were also saying how they hadnt been inside since they were young.
I think it will be familiar to people in Preston, but I hope it also makes them look again at just what theyve got here and what the city has to offer. I also hope that it makes people outside think differently about the north west and reconsider it as a film location because theres so much on offer here..
Elaine says the film had created a positive buzz and one person who is particularly looking forward to seeing it on the big screen is Samantha Edwards, who has the starring role.
For me as a young actress, who has only been a professional for a short time, I feel very lucky and very proud to be involved, she says. It was great filming in Preston at all the different locations. We shot some amazing footage in the bus station. I would be quite sad to see it knocked down now.
Those controversial plans to demolish it form part of the on-going Tithebarn development which, having finally been granted planning permission following a public inquiry and a high court case, looks to be set to go ahead after Preston Guild.
Were all clear to go now, says Peter Rankin, the new leader of Preston City Council.
The inquiry and court case put us back by about three years, but were continuing negotiations with Land Lease, the company responsible for building the Olympic village.
Obviously in times of economic recession, retail isnt exactly booming but at the launch of their latest shopping centre in the south, Land Lease said their next venture is Preston. There are very few of these development going on in the UK so Im very pleased. Negotiations are encouraging and it looks as if we will begin building after the Guild.
I know how important the Guild is to the city and its people and that is what weve really got to focus on at the moment.
Were trying to improve the city centre in readiness for the Guild. Its important to Prestonians all over the world. I think we have been a bit too modest about Preston and its attractions over the last few years. We need to shout about the fact its a vibrant city.
We have some incredibly creative people here and the Guild will be a great chance to showcase Preston, not only to its people but to prospective investors.