The story of Cityboy
After leaving my hardcore office job and writing an expose about it called ‘Cityboy’ that somehow became a best-seller I wasn’t too sure what the next step was. I was only 35 and I’d been slaving away in a job I despised for 12 years. All I knew was that it was now time to do something creative that I enjoyed. So, after writing a couple of moderately successful follow-up novels I decided I should make ‘Cityboy’ into a film, but there was a problem – I literally had no idea how to do it.
That’s why I signed up for a couple of courses at Raindance – one on screenwriting and another on film production. What they both did was make me actually believe that this absurd pipedream was possible. Attending them also meant that when I started the arduous task of trying to raise money I could ‘talk the talk’.
After failing to get a £4m budget version of ‘Cityboy’ off the ground (with hindsight a tad ambitious for my first film!) I decided to write and produce a film for a tenth of the cost. ‘Trick or Treat’ is a Blackpool-based psychological thriller with a good dose of black humour about an ex-gangster who is struggling with his new domesticated existence when his estranged brother suddenly turns up claiming to have drunkenly run someone over. The film is jam-packed with twists and turns and takes place over one ghostly Halloween night in Blackpool. It explores the themes of male identity and depression but, hopefully, in the least depressing way possible!
Making a low budget film for the first time and wearing as many hats as is possible is no walk in the park, but it proved to be one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done and after all that hard work we achieved a reasonable amount of success: ‘Trick or Treat’ managed to win the best film award at the Marbella International Film Festival in 2019 (as well as the Best Actress award for Frances Barber and the Best Supporting Actor award for Kris Marshall) and it also had a UK cinema release with Vue and Odeon – which is almost unheard of for such a low budget film. We also managed to sell the film to a reputable US distributor, who packed Walmarts across the USA last Halloween with DVDs of our film, and it’s sold well in the UK via TVOD on Amazon, Sky Store, etc since June last year.
Apparently, on our deathbeds, we regret more the things we didn’t do rather than the things we actually did, and since I have little doubt that without Raindance I would never have managed to make a film, I am extremely grateful.
I am now trying to get two new film projects off the ground though Covid isn’t making things easy. Still, if I have one piece of advice for anyone contemplating this tricky business I’m going to quote the Nike advert and say ‘Just do it!’
You can see the trailer for Trick or Treat here: