Stars are set to shine in Tees Valley after the first feature film to benefit from a major regional funding initiative has been picked up for a nationwide cinema release – with the UK premiere set to take place in the region.
JACKDAW is the feature-length writing and directorial debut of local filmmaker Jamie Childs. His previous credits include a host of well-loved TV shows such as Doctor Who, Vera, His Dark Materials as well as Willow for Disney+ and The Sandman for Netflix.
His new feature has been filmed entirely in the region – including sites like Seal Sands, Nunthorpe and using Northern Studios, the North East’s only large-scale film and TV production facility.
It has seen a £300,000 investment from the North East Production Fund, delivered by regional screen agency North East Screen on behalf of the North East Screen Industries Partnership (NESIP), as part of their ambitious plans to make the region one of the UK’s leading film and TV production hubs.
The film stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Invisible Man, The Haunting of Hill House) as the title character, with other household names including Jenna Coleman – also known for her work in Doctor Who, The Sandman and Victoria – This is England star Thomas Turgoose and Game of Thrones’ Rory McCann.
It follows a struggling former motocross champion and Army veteran who, while caring for his younger brother, agrees to pick up an illegal package in the North Sea. His brother’s subsequent disappearance sets him on a violent quest across North East England.
To mark the film’s release in UK cinemas by Vertigo Releasing, a glittering star-studded premiere will take place in Tees Valley, before a series of local screenings ahead of its release.
The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority contributed £4.5million to a North-East-wide programme of development for the screen industries, delivered by the region’s screen agency, North East Screen, in partnership with all 12 of the North East’s local and combined authorities. The groundbreaking programme will grow a thriving screen ecosystem with a hands-on film office service and significant skills and talent support.
Its newly launched multi-million pound North East Production Fund, which saw JACKDAW being one of the pilots to test the criteria and approach used to back productions, will support this and continue to drive inward investment in the region, attracting more productions to film in the North East.
The film has also been front-and-centre of an industry event held in London to highlight the North East Production Fund to industry movers and shakers.
JACKDAW Producer Callum Grant said: “The North East has a unique creative potential which has been systemically overlooked by the British film industry. Look at what the likes of Sam Fender are doing in music, for example. There is an energy and ambition here which deserves to be taken seriously, so it’s exciting to see such a fiercely supportive team launch the NESIP. Watch the space for the talent which will rapidly emerge when given the kind of attention and self-belief that North East Screen can now provide.”
Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said: “Jamie’s already impressive career has been rapidly on the rise over the past couple of years. He’s a brilliant home-grown talent that’s making a name for himself, but he’s not forgotten his roots.
“JACKDAW is a fantastic chance to have industry eyes on us as a filming and production location, as our investment into NESIP has already paid dividends to fund even more exciting projects.
“Jamie’s picking up the torch for our next generation of creators, and there’s never been a better time for local talent to stand out as we continue to grow our sector – not just for writers and directors, but for engineers, costume makers and technicians. Our cash is helping get us into cinemas and in front of people across the UK, while nurturing regional skills.”
Julie Gilhespie, Tees Valley Combined Authority Chief Executive and Co-Chair of NESIP said: “Thanks to Jamie’s huge talent and support from North East Screen, our first major project is heading to the big screen this year and then into homes early next year, with a deal that means we can reinvest even more into the sector locally. This is a big win for our programme, our region and its ambitious workforce in TV and film, with the benefits felt far and wide.”
Gayle Woodruffe, Operations Director for North East Screen, who manages the North East Production Fund, said: “Piloting JACKDAW through the North East Production Fund was an easy decision, it allowed us to not only support exceptional North East home grown talent, but also showcase the North East in a different light for the big screen.
“We have world class talent, world class crew and world class locations here in the North East, and all of these are showcased in JACKDAW – a testament to the work we are doing to build on the growing screen industry in the region.”