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County steps into the spotlight
12:21pm Thursday 3rd July 2014 in News
"THE difference between making a film here in Herefordshire and making one in London couldn't be greater," says director of Herefordshire-set feature Here and Now, Lisle Turner, and his ambition, long term, is to work more and more in the county he now calls home.
He first came across Herefordshire when he visited the Vipassana Meditation centre near Ross to do a course and "from that moment forward I was really struck by how beautiful it is round here, how calm and how it wasn't full of people from London. It's unspoilt as a county, and I felt really at home here."
Little wonder then, that after a career spent travelling the globe to shoot short films for Amnesty International and Channel 4, Lisle chose to make his first feature film in Herefordshire, using local talent wherever possible.
"From a filmmaker's point of view the county offers an extraordinary diversity of locations - not one of the locations I used was more than a 45-minute drive from my home in Kingsland - and a unique quality of light, which I tend to think of as Italian in its softness."
Though Lisle has not always been a film maker, his career has always been in film, originally as creative director of the UK's biggest independent chain. He then moved into the production side "but it didn't quite tick all of my boxes".
"Film was always my first love so when I got married - in a cinema in London naturally (The Ritzy in Brixton) - Claire and I decided to sell the business I was running and she went to clown school in Paris while I wrote my first novel and my first film.
"When we came back to London I needed a day job and went to work in Amnesty International and made a TV show for them, and 50 ad films in three years, working with great actors and production people, and that was the big shift. Those three years were my film school and taught me how to make films."
Lisle followed that with some Three Minute Wonder films for Channel 4, on the last of which he met Michael Winterbottom and his production company, Revolution, and then Michael's regular producer, Andrew Eaton, executive produced Here and Now. He was also producing Ron Howard's Rush, which I think might have got a bit more of his time!
Here and Now is a contemporary love story, inspired by Lisle's own move from the city to the country - "I wanted to talk about that change in perspective" - by becoming a father soon after moving here "it made me think about parents and their relationships with their children", and by his own father, who like Say's father in the film, had died in an accident on a mountain.
It's also a coming of age story - it's a tried and tested story because it gives you the chance to look at things from a slightly different angle. I also wanted to show teenagers in a positive light, as thoughtful and intelligent. Both young and old can benefit from lessons learned from each other.
The film is something of a family affair, too, with Lisle's wife Claire playing Say's mother, something Lisle admits presents a slight challenge, involving a shift from husband and wife to director and actor.
While Lisle works on his next project, "a revenge Western updated to contemporary Wales", Claire has started developing a new theatre show, The Mighty Prince and other Fabulous Fables. "In the theatre we work as a team, says Lisle, who wrote the award-winning The Idiot Colony, "and Claire directs. In film, I direct.
With plans to produce work through their company, Open Sky Productions, Lisle foresees making more work in Herefordshire: "We are determined to work where we live.
"People said that my first feature would be hard," he adds. "But it's the best thing I have ever done."
Here and Now will be screened at The Courtyard from Sunday, when the screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Lisle. It then shows from Monday, July 14 to Thursday, July 17. For screening times and to book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit courtyard.org.uk