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Private Viewing: Suffolk ready for its close-up as our feature film is 'prepped'

PUBLISHED: 12:24 22 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:24 22 June 2015

Matthew McGuchan, far left, and Julien Mery, far right, at a  Film Suffolk event.

Matthew McGuchan, far left, and Julien Mery, far right, at a Film Suffolk event.

Suffolk is a creative county. Arts editor Andrew Clarke looks at how Film Suffolk is putting our talents on the big screen

Keira Knightley and Chiwetel  Ejiofor in Love Actually, a film by Suffolk resident Richard Curtis, and an inspiration for Film Suffolk's creative calling card With Love From Suffolk.Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Love Actually, a film by Suffolk resident Richard Curtis, and an inspiration for Film Suffolk's creative calling card With Love From Suffolk.

Dozens of collaborators telling eight stories in one film – a love letter from Suffolk to the world. This is the challenge that a group of film-makers at Film Suffolk have set themselves.

They are making a feature film about Suffolk and its people for local consumption but also to act as a calling card for local talent.

With Love From Suffolk is to be shot on location in the county over the summer and will be released in independent cinemas on Valentine’s Day 2016.

Producer and script editor Julien Mery and Matthew McGuchan have gathered together eight stories which, under the broadest possible heading, say something about love in Suffolk in 2015. Suffolk is often best known for its rich heritage. This is about Suffolk in the here and now.

It’s a film which takes its inspiration from a number of sources but you can spot echoes of Love Actually and various portmanteau films like Paris je t’aime and New York I Love You.

Film Suffolk was formed last year after a film conference, organised by ReCreate, was held at the Ipswich Film Theatre. It is a co-operative designed to help film professionals in the county find work while at the same time offering visiting productions a one-stop shop when it comes to finding locations and people to work on films. It’s aim was to ensure that film-making was part of Creative Suffolk.

With Love From Suffolk will be creative Suffolk writ large on the cinema screen. Written, produced, directed, crewed, acted by Suffolk people, and featuring Suffolk locations, it will have something to say about our culture and our county in the 21st Century.

It will present a diverse vision of the people and places that give contemporary Suffolk its heart.

Earlier this year, Julien and Matthew, issued a plea for Suffolk writers to submit a short script or story idea which could be woven into a much larger narrative.Matthew said: “I was expecting between 20 and 30 scripts because we deliberately gave people a tight deadline and very specific brief. But, I was amazed when we had 84 scripts submitted. I was dazzled by the standard and the imagination on show even though not everyone stuck to the brief.”

He said that production considerations made it relatively easy to whittle 84 scripts down to a shortlist of 16 before these were reduced down to the final eight. Producer Julien said: “The overall thing we were looking for was diversity. We wanted stories about older people, younger people, men and women, as well as urban and rural life. We had four stories set at open mic nights and three set on beaches – we could only choose one of each. I am very happy that we have got a pretty diverse picture of modern-day Suffolk and Suffolk people.”

But, it’s not just Suffolk writers who are being offered opportunities. Suffolk directors like Daniel Simpson and Will Wright and Suffolk-based cinematographer Steven Hall are being signed up while other locally-based professionals are being recruited to work on each of the eight stories.

Matthew Sheeran, Ed’s brother, has also just signed on to provide the film’s incidental music while Film Suffolk have launched a song writing competition for local songwriters to come up with a song to be featured in the film and also provide a “Love Is All Around” style song for the end credits. Matthew Sheeran has agreed to be part of the judging team.

Suffolk is swiftly gaining a national reputation for being a creative county. Culture has always played a huge part in our make-up and our economy. Theatre, dance, music, fine art, new writing and poetry all have homes in Suffolk. National companies like Gecko and Tilted are based here and create work in Suffolk before they go to London and then tour the world.

We are home to a series of national festivals staged throughout the summer – from the Aldeburgh Festival to Snape Proms, to HighTide new theatre festival, Flipside Literary Festival and the big music and arts event which is Latitude. It is only right that film takes its place in our cultural portfolio.

Film Suffolk is looking to finance With Love From Suffolk through a mixture of crowd funding, sponsorship and services in kind.

Details about how you can get involved in putting Suffolk on screen can be found at the Film Suffolk website: http://www.filmsuffolk.org.uk

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