Village pub destined for the silver screen

Jon Campling, Stephan Bessant, Christopher Dane, Laurence Saunders and George McCluskey outside the Vanguard HQ, The Blinking Owl pub
Jon Campling, Stephan Bessant, Christopher Dane, Laurence Saunders and George McCluskey outside the Vanguard HQ, The Blinking Owl pub
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A fight for survival against right wing fascists, rogue weapons and film and TV stars aren’t things normally associated with North Newington but this past weekend The Blinking Owl pub became the fictional headquarters for the leading group in the film Vanguard.

The film is being directed by Banbury trauma surgeon James Owen, who also wrote the script over a two year period.

Vanguard filming at the Blinking Owl NNL-160824-155922001

Vanguard filming at the Blinking Owl NNL-160824-155922001

Set in the year 2020 the film tells the story of a Britain in the midst of political turmoil and a brilliant surgeon who is recruited to become a deadly rogue weapon in a revenge attack on suspected terrorists.

Mr Owen said: “It’s set in the future, post-Brexit effectively. We’ve got a fascist government in power and we’ve got a lot more racial tensions going on in society. It’s then about a surgeon who gets involved in a white supremacist organisation and they get him to become involved in some sinister activity.”

The choice of location for the day’s filming came from good old-fashioned word of mouth.

Mr Owen said: “Basically a very good friend of mine lives two doors down from the pub. It’s such an amazing pub. You go into it and your jaw drops. It’s sort of what you expect of an old English pub but you go in and it really is incredible. It’s a set in itself and makes a superb visual for the Vanguard headquarters.”

Ewen Mackintosh gets direction from James Owen on the set of Vanguard (Courtesy Trish Holden) NNL-160824-160233001

Ewen Mackintosh gets direction from James Owen on the set of Vanguard (Courtesy Trish Holden) NNL-160824-160233001

Being an independent, low-budget production in comparison to Hollywood blockbusters, the film initially has nothing more then the quality of the script with which to entice potential financial backing and the all important cast.

The script, however, has been so well received by the both the film industry and the acting community it has landed the services of some familiar names from TV and film including Ewen Mackintosh, most famous for his portrayal of Keith in The Office, Jon Campling, who played Death Eater in Harry Potter and Laurence Saunders from Doctor who, Eastenders and Doctors.

Mr Campling said: “You often find that shoots like these are highly creative, thinking on your feet and a real challenge.

“Its’s not always the case but quite often the more money you have the less artistic integrity projects tend to have.

“The fact that people are willing to give up their weekends, work for lower rates tells you everyone’s passionate about it.”

Stephan Bessant, whose credits include The Hound of the Baskervilles, said: “It’s so exciting. When I first heard about it I really, really wanted to audition for it, to be seen for it. I contacted James, I knew James from another shoot I had done earlier in the year and I said please, please see me for this.”

Also on board are production company Brillstein Entertainment Partnership who have films such as Scary Movie and Ghostbusters on their CV. The filming at the Blinking Owl will be used to produce a teaser or trailer to distribute within the industry in order to gain further funding.

Geoarge McCluskey, who plays a psychopath in the film said: “A very important thing about the trailer is that a lot of independent films try and tell you the story and that’s not how you do it. What you do is make a two minute sellable piece.

“Aliens is a classic example, it’s nice and slow then builds up but you don’t really know what the story is about.”

The hundreds of minutes of filming already shot will be produced into a two to three minute trailer by James Owen’s Arthrofilm in conjunction with Brillstein Entertainment, and will form the basis of the next step towards full funding.

The film is also sourcing financial help from a crowd funding venture at www.indiegogo.com/projects/vanguard-the-movie-film-films#/

Vanguard is set for a festival release in 2018 and you can keep up with the latest news on its progress at www.facebook.com/VanguardTheMovie