“You don’t want me in it,” says Sheila, straightening her apron as I back up to take a picture of the treats on her trestle table. “Actually it would look good if I was doing this,” she says brandishing the cake slice like Zorro.
Sheila is a volunteer member at the Ilkley Playhouse where I am about to see the self-funded film Hinterland. She gives me a ticket for coffee and tells me to go to the hatch on the left. I’m thinking that if you ask for a cake at the coffee hatch, you get a token to take to the cake table. This is a tried and tested system and says a great deal about the Playhouse and its team of thoughtful and dedicated volunteers. What better venue to host a beautifully shot film with a big-hearted script and a shoestring budget?
Hinterland was a labour of love, completed on such small amount of money because the writer, director, producer and one of the main actors took on a voluntary role and ploughed his inheritance into the project. I know this because they are all Harry Macqueen. Well, it’s better than two package holidays and some new clobber to some of us. I bet Sheila would have thought that too.
I reckon the selling point to Hinterland will be the contrasts of the film’s story and how the film was made. It’s about a 20-something lad, hesitant to go for thrills and content to enjoy the ride of life from behind the barriers. But the production team have overcome obstacles and made the best possible film with the tools at their disposal.
Hinterland is essentially a British road movie (albeit the most gentle road movie I have ever seen), filmed by cinematographer Ben Hecking with a free camera, a huge hummer of a thing which had recently retired from documentary-making. Hecking and the sound person had to lie down in the footwell in the back of the car and set the camera up in the boot for the majority of the filming. Set against the bitter and dramatic South West coast in February, the story has a delicate touch with every frame counting for something. When there’s no time, there’s no time for anything else. The immediacy really pays off with the story too and I’m glad I caught the film early on in its distribution journey. I expect a lot of eyes on this film.
Later I see the Playhouse volunteers at La Haine at The King’s Hall. Now, what excites an armchair anarchist like myself is seeing older people from a small Yorkshire village in film festival t-shirts ushering an anti-race hate French film that’s all drugs and guns and rage, boomed out over the live louder-than-bombs soundtrack of Asian Dub Foundation. The village I live in is the ilk of Ilkley and I can tell you, they are not just dropping scones; the over 60s are rock and roll. They invented it.
This event was a triumph and to finish the evening we piled out onto the village street with that great sopping northern slap-in-the-chops pissing rain. We’re not going off swaying on yachts in socks. I’ve had a pint of Prosecco in a plastic glass and I’m legging it down the soaking flags to the doorway of The Crescent Inn so my husband can light his rollie. And, as Hecking goes up and down the country and beyond as a one-man distributor, and Sheila and the other volunteers make the butties, paint the walls, build the sets and polish the tables ready for the Playhouse’s forthcoming productions, we get off home grateful for the art, the revelry and the care.
By Cathy Crabb