How Harrogate became a film hub

Forget Hollywood or Pinewood, a growing band of talented Harrogate film aficianados are turning the town into a 'Harro-wood' for independent cinema.

Monday, 18th February 2019, 9:33 am
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 9:42 am
Photo call for the film Run Kara by Growler Films at one of the locations, Poliform in Harrogate. Pictured are Henry Thompson, director; Karen Bridgett, writer; Marthe Taylor, actor and production assistant; Brian Madden, producer. (Picture by Steve Riding)

In a neat example of synchronicity, a new Harrogate movie made by members of Harrogate Film Society shot in Harrogate locations is to get its world premiere at Harrogate Film Festival.

Run Kara, an exciting drama set in the world of AI, will be shown at the Everyman cinema at this year’s festival in early March, before being entered for film festivals in the UK, Europe, and Canada.

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The film’s director, producer and screenwriter Henry Thompson, said the low budget film, which was produced by his own Growler Films company, shows that Harrogate is starting to put itself on the cinema map.

He said: “The whole experience underlines what many others have already said - that the local area is becoming a hub for creative and commercial film making. “The three producers - Brian Madden, Karen Bridgett and myself - happen to be on the committee of Harrogate Film Society but the society had no other involvement.“This was very much our own expression of our passion for film, which, of course, carries over into our work for Harrogate Film Society.“Growler Films are only one of several local film companies that are doing great things in film.”

The debut filmmaker, who is Research Fellow in film at the University of Manchester by day, said the challenges were great for these rookie filmmakers.“It’s been our first film and it was daunting. Whilst we lacked previous film experience all three producers had a lot of business and management experience behind them. “The budget came from the producers. We didn’t charge for our own time over the six months that we worked on the film.”“We received a lot of things for free - music rights, use of locations, production support. If we had paid for everything on the open market the budget would have been around £135k. “Luckily for us we received tremendous support from a lot of people in Harrogate who are interested in film making and supporting local cultural and artistic endeavour.”“The story is set in Canary Wharf but we wanted to use internal locations in Harrogate, to showcase what can be done locally. That applies to the acting talent also. “We were lucky with the locations because the owners of Westmoreland cafe, Porco Rosso and Poliform North were all on the same wavelength, interested to promote the area and local creative endeavour.”

Run Kara, which stars Nicole Evans, Maria Chelidoni and Bob Hurford, will be screened on Sunday, March 3 at 9am at the Everyman cinema as part of the third annual Harrogate Film Festival which runs from March 1-5.