Saturday, 20 February 2010

Brit Writers' Awards etc

The deadline for the Brit Writers' Awards is up on Friday 26th Feb at 5pm.

So far, I have submitted two stories and have several more to add, plus a poetry collection, but their site seems to have crashed so maybe it's been overwhelmed with last-minute entries.

Lee Hughes very kindly told me about the Sword & Sorceress Anthology 25 so I have a fantasy piece all ready for that. Not allowed to submit until the 17th April though and they're very strict - don't want my knuckles rapped! Or worse, my story rejected because I was too keen and sent it too early.

Overall, I've been trying to get this year's competition calendar organised. I've got pieces ready to submit to some and ideas for others. I am determined to make 2010 the year I get paid for writing.

And then of course there's Bridport (quakes in shoes). I have no chance in hell, but you have to have a go, don't you. Good luck to everyone entering comps this year.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Filming Brighton Rock

I recently wrote the following article for Eastbourne Borough Council's staff newsletter, Sureline.

Last year, the remake of Brighton Rock was filmed in Eastbourne, facilitated by the council's Film Liaison Unit. The directors recruited hundreds of local people as extras, including several council staff. Read more...

Eastbourne Takes On Brighton Rock

by Michele Ranger

Oh, the glamour! Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Sam Riley. A-List stars – all in Eastbourne to film the remake of Graham Greene’s classic 1947 film noir, Brighton Rock. Originally written in 1938, Greene’s menacing tale of despair and social dissolution sees gang leader Pinkie Brown (played by Riley) ensnared by an underworld of crime and murder.

The insular antihero deliberately wins the heart of waitress, Rose (Andrea Risborough) who is attracted by the danger and charisma of the enigmatic, angry young man. But Pinkie has a cold heart; Rose holds vital information about a revenge killing - and by forcing Rose to marry him, Pinkie can stop her giving evidence. Chilling stuff.

This time round, director Rowan Joffe – co-writer of 2007’s horror 28 Weeks Later - has set the movie in the changing times of 1964. He chose Eastbourne rather than Brighton to shoot the seafront scenes because he felt the town had more charm than modern-day Brighton. So picture our lovely promenades, our beautiful beaches – awash with mods and rockers, and you’ll get the idea. Stylish guys in sharp suits and Parkas astride clean-lined Lambrettas; the girls riding pillion, bouffants and beehives held in place with the heaviest of lacquer.

But where would British favourite Pete Postlethwaite have been without EBC's own Andy Tourle? How would Andrea Risborough have coped without the Gowers in situ?

Andy, Alan Gower and his father Ian joined the hundreds of extras who were cast in the remake of the iconic film. SureLinetracked them down to find out about their experiences.

At the casting auditions, whilst the Gowers had to wait for 90 minutes to be seen, Andy said it felt more like ten days.

Extras were offered up to six days paid work. Alan became the traditional beach ice-cream seller, resplendent in white coat,shirt, tie and waistcoat. “They even gave me a string vest to wear!” Alan said. He was also offered the opportunity to play the Punch and Judy man, and was happy to show off his versatility.

Andy Tourle, a ‘background mod’ believes the director must have been impressed by his walk because he had to do it over and over again. He and huddles of fellow mods paraded up and down the pier – renamed the Palace Pier for the film. Andy was one of the lucky ones where costumes were concerned. In a grey, double-breasted ‘Beatle’ suit, slimline trousers and pointed shoes he looked – in his own words “almost cool.” Had he not been made to shave off his famous Supergrass sideburns, no doubt he would have looked totally cool.

Other extras sat for hours with their hair in rollers, wearing such glorious costumes as vivid green coats with blue and white polka dot linings or mid-calf length white dresses covered in flowers with beige shoes and stockings.

Laura Paul, though – a deckchair girl, wore her yellow striped dress with yellow cardigan and cream high heels quite happily. Ian Gower joined other ‘street people’, wandering up and down the prom past the pier. In flat cap, suit and brown overcoat he probably fared better against the chills and occasional rain than his son Alan.

Filming was also a family affair for Theatres Box Office Manager, Zoe Bourne who was cast as a ‘mother’ for three days, and actually performed alongside her own son. She even got to chat to Phil Davis – one of the original mods from 1979’s Quadrophenia. Phil recently appeared in ITV’s Collision and BBC2’s Desperate Romantics.

Sam Riley, the film’s main star was a hit with everyone. “He was very nice and talked to most people,” said Laura. “I saw him when he had got his make up done after a particular scene, and he explained to me why he had green around his eyes (for special effects).”


EBC's Events Co-ordinator Julie Paul pulled together a 90-strong team to help steward the filming, a feat of organisation. Julie’s colleague, Michella Wright and Tourism Assistant Jo Amess were part of the stewarding posse; despite the long days, Michella and Jo found the film’s crews and staff were really friendly. We were treated very well,” they said, “with plenty of free tea and bacon baps to keep us warm in the colder hours”.

In fact the quality and abundance of the catering was something both extras and stewards all enjoyed. But most importantly, everyone was impressed with the professionalism of the Director, the cast and the crew - including costume, hair and make-up staff.

As for ‘loveyness’, Andy Tourle found a few ‘lovey, darlings’ amongst the non-EBC extras, but not the main actors. In any case, he found himself under the wing of “a mad, fortune-telling gypsy”, an actress presumably, who regaled him with tales of dating the infamous Oliver Reed. Andy says he’s not been swayed by his acting experience though, and it’s still “rock and roll all the way.” We await the album Andy.

Economic Impact of Filming Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock brought more than half-a-million pounds into Eastbourne’s economy, with hundreds of filming staff and crew staying at our town’s hotels, eating out and using our local services. Additionally, there was also a potential boost for Eastbourne’s employment status as the film makers invited Sussex Downs College media unit students to work with various teams throughout the filming. The students have been encouraged to send their CVs into the film company.

Film Liaison Unit

The filming of Brighton Rock could not have taken place without the hard work of the council’s Film Liaison Unit, which co-ordinated everything from road closures and lighting to getting street furniture removed. The Unit helped the film company to select the best locations and also liaised with residents and businesses to ease the impact of filming.