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Busy autumn as South West Film Studios announce three film productions secured for Cornwall

It's the news that Cornwall's been waiting for – St Agnes based South West Film Studios have secured a series of three films which will commence production in Cornwall this autumn. The films, with total production budgets in excess of £15 million, will star Hollywood idols Eddie Griffin and Max Von Sydow as well as the popular Vinnie Jones and Ronan Keating in his acting debut and are scheduled to start pre-production at the studios within days.

Already there's news of a requirement for 500 extras, and the hope is that more and more jobs for locally qualified film crews and other professionals will be created by the influx of films to the South West Film Studios.

The three films are: 'Guns, Money and Home Cooking', 'Heidi' and 'Irish Jam'.

'Guns, Money and Home Cooking' is a comedy thriller which stars Vinnie Jones and Ronan Keating who is making his film debut. The film, with a production budget of £5.5 million, will be using the studios and locations around Porthleven, and is already in pre-production.

'Heidi', being produced by Piccadilly Pictures, is the story of Heidi and currently started filming in Slovenia, but will be coming to the film studios shortly, with a production budget of £4.5 million.

And finally, 'Irish Jam' starts pre-production at the studios this week. The film stars Eddie Griffin who is a big star in America where his last film grossed over $40 million. The £5.5 million production will be filming in studios and locations around Cornwall.

Alex Swan, Managing Director of the film studios has been cautious about making any announcements of confirmed film productions until they are underway, but is now confident that the studios are on a roll, with many more films lining up to use the studios.

"It's been a tough time in the film industry," comments Alex. "Changes in Government regulations on tax breaks put back a lot of films which had to renegotiate finances. But we're on our way now!"

The £6 million studios are based on a 10 acre site in St Agnes and currently offer two sound stage studios together with a suite of offices for the pre-production work to take place prior to filming, post production facilities, catering and other on site services. The studios provide a base for filmmakers carrying out location shoots as well as fully sound proofed stage facilities.

Work on the studios, which have yet to be completed, stopped earlier this year while necessary re-financing was undertaken, primarily due to an increase in building costs. It is hoped that final construction activity will recommence shortly.

'Guns, Money and Home Cooking' is already in pre-production at the studios and will be until filming starts at the end of October with a scheduled completion date in early December. The comedy thriller tells the story of a female lighthouse keeper in her 70s who has a surprise visit from two men who have just robbed a local bank, one of whom is Ronan Keating. Vinnie Jones' character is in hot pursuit, although the robbers have enough on their hands with the old lady lighthouse keeper.

Filming will be taking place at the studios and around Cornwall, although locations are still being finalised. 500 extras will be required for the film to take place in the rather idiosyncratically named 'spinsters and bachelors race', details of which will soon be publicised.

The £5.5 million production is due for release in the summer of 2005. Film Producer, Phillip Emanuel says: "The story is set in Cornwall and I believe it is vital to film in authentic locations – so it makes perfect sense to do our studio work close by; we can do the least travelling possible while we are shooting, with the option of studio work if the weather is bad.

"The facilities are superb and the staff have been really helpful, especially with location work."

And another film start into pre production at the studios next week; Irish Jam, also with a production budget of £5.5 million, will be filming at the studios and locations around Cornwall which have been identified as being similar to Ireland.

'Irish Jam' tells the story of the fictional Irish village of Ballywood which is held to financial ransom by a nasty English land owner who wants to build a theme park on the village. The villager's only chance of keeping their homes is to use their pub, the only part of the village not owned by their greedy landlord, as a prize in a lottery.

A larger than life character and con artist from Los Angeles, Jimmy 'The Jam' McDevitt is always looking for ways to make a fast buck and uses his skills at cheating to win the pub believing that it will be an island paradise.

When he arrives in the fictional village of Ballywood, shot on location in Cornwall, his dreams are shattered along with the expectation of the locals who were looking for a knight in shining armour to save the day.

Comedy ensues as Jimmy 'the Jam' and the villagers adjust to each other, with Jimmy finding some good in his personality to change his ways and look out for someone other than himself.

The film will have its first showing at Cannes in May 2005. Film producer Tom Mattinson said: "Cornwall's landscape has many similarities to the fictional village in Ireland which the film is set in. It's really useful to have a production resource that is close to our location filming so Cornwall and the South West Film Studios was an obvious choice. It is exciting that we can potentially source so many of the things we need to make our film from one place. Over the coming weeks will be in talks with the studio to try and exploit as many local resources as possible."

The classical children's tale of 'Heidi' is being retold in a new production by film Director Paul Marcus, whose credits include Prime Suspect, Break-Up, Murder Rooms, Emperor Nero. The producer is Martyn Auty, a well known TV and film producer whose work includes Heartbeat and a Touch of Frost. The production company is Piccadilly Pictures whose previous film, The Truth About Love, was shot earlier this year in Bristol.

Set in the Swiss Alps 100 years ago, Heidi is the story of a young orphan girl who is sent to stay with her grandfather in the High Alps. A tale of the indomitable spirit of children amid the hardships of an adult world, Heidi has been a favourite childhood fiction for generations around the world.

The movie stars Emma Bolger in the title role - Emma's first film was the multi-award-winning 'In America' directed by Jim Sheridan, which she made when she was 7 years old. Now at nine, Emma is taking on one of the great children's roles and her co-star is Max Von Sydow (as Grandfather) who first impressed movie-goers in the mid-50s with his iconic role in Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal' and is also famously known for playing Father Merrin the priest in the cult film 'The Exorcist'.

Other leading actors in the production include Geraldine Chaplin and Dame Diana Rigg.

Given its Alpine setting, the exterior scenes for Heidi will be shot in the real Alps, in Slovenia; the exteriors of 'Frankfurt' will be shot in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. The interior sets will be built and filmed at South West Film Studios in Cornwall.

South West Film Studios will be providing local expertise and talent as required by the production and it is planned that shooting will take place from 22nd November to 10th December.

It is expected that a small number of local extras may be used but the main cast for shooting in Cornwall are the principal actors Emma Bolger, Max Von Sydow, Geraldine Chaplin and Diana Rigg.

Content International will be releasing the film in the UK sometime in 2005.

Details of how local people can apply for jobs in films being shot at the studios, for example as extras, will be published shortly in the local press.


Editor's notes:

For further information:
Deborah Clark
Deborah Clark and Associates
Tel: 01872 276276
Mobile: 07867 592506


Sue Wolstenholme
Objective One Communications
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01579 370991

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