Cardiff independent production company 441 Films has had its debut feature film – Cruel Summer – selected for showing at FrightFest, the UK’s largest International genre film festival showcasing the best horror, Sci-Fi and thriller films.
The news was announced by FrightFest organisers in July and will mark the film’s premiere. The date has been set for the 27th August at the VUE cinema in Shepherds Bush London as part of FrightFest’s Discovery Screen.
Cruel Summer is based on a story created by Phillip Escott and Craig Newman, the founders of 441 Films, that was inspired by a spate of teen orientated crime that spread throughout the UK during 2011/2012. The screenplay was written by Phillip.
The company, which was set up in 2011 and has benefited from business development support from the WG’s creative industry team, has helped create material for boutique film distribution labels around the world.
Their work, distributed worldwide via DVD and Blu-ray, has featured in prestigious film festivals such as the Sitges International Film Festival but Phillip Escott said having their work featured at FrightFest was their best achievement to date.
Phillip, who put a Masters Degree in Film on hold to produce and complete the project, said: “FrightFest is one of the biggest, and best, festivals on the planet for horror fans. To have a film that we created included is truly thrilling and we are extremely excited by the prospect of having Cruel Summer premiere there in August. It really is a dream come true.”
Congratulating the company, Cabinet Secretary for Economy Ken Skates said: “Wales has a vibrant independent film production sector and it’s always good to hear of companies like 441 Films making their mark in what is a very competitive market and helping to raise the profile of the sector in Wales.”
Having started as camera operators, and cutting their teeth working on productions by the likes of Hollywood-based The Asylum, the production company behind the extremely popular Sharknado franchise, they decided to branch out into feature film production for themselves.
Cruel Summer was filmed in and around Ely and Rumney in Cardiff where Phillip and Craig were brought up before production moved on to Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly and Barry and other locations in South Wales.
The film centres around a crime, telling the story from both the perspective of the victim and the perpetrators, charting what impact a day can have on the lives of those involved and those around them.
Phillip and Craig are specifically interested in what they call ‘real-life horror’ as opposed to the supernatural and possession sub-genres. They say that real life horror brings the horror to the viewers’ doorsteps in a very real and tangible form. In Cruel Summer the cause of terror could be your next door neighbour, a close friend, your crush, or your son and daughter.
The 80 minute privately financed made-in-Wales film was shot entirely in Wales using predominantly Welsh talent, both behind and in front of the camera.
Post-production was completed in Wales by BAFTA and EMMY award winning Bang Post Production (Doctor Who, Sherlock) and was a co-production with Aberystwyth based Trebuchet Film Productions. Chris Crow and David Lloyd (Devil’s Bridge, The Lighthouse) from Dogs Of Annwn Ltd, an indie Film Production company based in Llantwit Major, were executive producers.
Cruel Summer features powerful performances from Danny Miller (Emmerdale), Reece Douglas (Waterloo Road) and newcomers Natalie Martins and Richard Pawulski.
Craig Newman concluded by saying: “Cruel Summer has attracted much attention within the industry and having just started its festival run we couldn’t have asked for more than to be selected for FrightFest which will raise the profile of the production and our company.”