Fortune Cookies – Screen Northants

In January of 2020, I responded to a Facebook post from Screen Northants looking for someone to take some stills for their (then) current production ‘Fortune Cookies’; while not having experience on a film set, I was familiar with taking photographs of live music so thought it would be an interesting project…and so it proved to be.

Screen Northants is a wonderful organisation which offers opportunities to gain professional film industry experience both in front of, and behind, the camera. Of particular importance (and as described on their website) is to redress the balance of limited opportunities within the film industry (which can be due to socio-economic and geographical factors) and to develop an internationally-recognised film production studio and make Northamptonshire a legitimate destination for Film and TV Production.

Screen Northants have received support from BBC Children in Need, Northampton Borough Council, Film Hub Midlands and Northamptonshire Community Foundation and local businesses.

‘Fortune Cookies’ was written and directed by Brenda Lee
with Mike Gallivan as First Assistant Director

While I did have experience in a TV studio from when I was a child that’s a completely different story…so, as I mentioned at the beginning, I had no experience on a film set; with the production running to tight deadlines, the speed and co-ordination with which people worked was incredible to watch. Trying to take photographs amongst this magnificent choreography was initially a little daunting particularly as space was often very restricted but everyone was helpful and welcoming and no-one had cause to tell me to get out of the way!

The photographs that you can see here are a small fraction of those taken – some were taken during a run-through (immediately prior to a ‘take’) others are candid/informal shots on the set.

I initially thought that I would be taking photographs for one day’s filming but ultimately (over the next two months) spent five or six days with Screen Northants. During this time, I could see the implementation of another of Screen Northants’ aims to “create new educational pathways and curriculum enrichment schemes” to help develop the next generation of film industry professionals. As the days progressed I came to learn that various members of the crew were college and university students gaining ‘real world’ experience of film production and I was delighted to be asked for (and provide) photographs of them at work for their portfolios.

Spending this time supporting Screen Northants was, simply, wonderful. The learning curve was steep; if was asked to work with them again I would gladly do so. If I had another opportunity to work on-set and take stills, would I do things differently? Undoubtedly – this was as much a learning experience for me as producing images for a fantastic local organisation helping people at the start of their careers as well as producing first-class films.

I also had a great deal of fun such as this with ‘Grandma’ (Lucy Sheen)