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Midlands Spotlight - Interview with Vanguard director James Owen

By midlandsmovies, Jul 22 2016 03:30PM

New Midlands Movies writer Kira Comerford checks out Vanguard from arthrofilm which has recently audtioned for cast in Birmingham.

James Owen's Vanguard is a brand new film set in the post-Brexit Britain of 2020 and tells the story of a rogue surgeon who is recruited by a fascist organisation to exact revenge on a group of terrorists, but when innocent victims start to die, he realises he’s made a terrible mistake.

Writer and director James Owen is founder of Midlands-based production company arthrofilm and describes his debut project Vanguard as ‘a fast-paced psychological thriller’. I caught up with Owen following his latest auditions at the Custard Factory in Birmingham.

"We had an overwhelming response to our cast call with over 800 applicants", he says. "The quality of the screen tests was incredible in both in London and Birmingham with some spine tingling performances - it really is a wonderful experience to hear your dialogue acted out for the first time".

The Vanguard team are now well under way with pre-production and, having cast the main characters, will be filming a concept teaser trailer in mid-August.

When asked about the idea for the story of Vanguard Owen replied, "I suppose most writers draw on their own experiences. I’m a surgeon myself and I suppose some of my inspiration has come from that. It certainly enables me to write believable concepts and scenarios but it is still important to do careful research and develop detailed characters and backstory. I had initially conceived Vanguard as a short film but it soon became apparent there was a much bigger story to tell".

It became clear from our conversation that Owen has huge plans for this film and is confident that it will be a success. We spoke about the challenges he is facing in bringing this story to the big screen.

"The most important step in the filmmaking process is the first 'one-write' or acquiring a unique and exciting story. Then, if you want something enough and are prepared to work very hard everything else will fall into place.

"As a director, you are focusing on realising your artistic vision, but if you want to be successful you must be a director of business first. This is quite a challenge and very time consuming. You must explore all funding options - film grants, crowd funding and private investment. You need a business plan - find out how well similar independent films performed, carefully work out your costs, and know your end game".

He goes on to add, "No sensible investor will get involved unless you have a very clear vision with as much evidence to back up your predictions as you can. How can you reassure them they will see a return on their investment?" Wise words that I think anyone who is embarking on an ambitious film project should seriously listen to.

Owen went on to tell me more about his crew and their plans. "I have been extremely fortunate to have an amazingly talented production team for Vanguard. Their knowledge and skills have kept me on track and each time we up the game to the next level they have played a key role. Once our concept trailer is complete we have plans to run a crowd funding campaign, open a merchandising shop online and pitch to more private investors. We would love to attract some more household names to this film and then go into production in mid 2018".

So is Vanguard going to be filmed in the Midlands?

"Absolutely, this is a British film but with expanding international support, including the USA, Australia, Kuwait and Bulgaria where the music score will be recorded".

We can only hope that all goes well and that Vanguard makes it onto screens by its expected release date in 2018. A lot of hard work has gone into the project already but they still have a long journey ahead. Vanguard will have many opportunities for Midland Filmmakers to get involved so this will be an interesting one to keep on your radar, and I wish Owen and his team the best of luck.

You can find out more about Vanguard and follow their progress on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VanguardTheMovie), Twitter (@Vanguard_Movie) and the film’s website - http://www.vanguardthemovie.com

Kira Comerford

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