Poor Wee Me is a brand new feature film telling the story of Gavin Brookes a 44 year old who has been recently diagnosed with dyslexia. To add insult to injury Gavin, played by Paul Hurstfield, has also just separated from his common-law-wife and has to come to terms with the relationship breakdown. Just as well that his job as a street debt collector allows him to vent his aggression and in rather a perverse way helping him come to terms with the changes in his personal life.
Set in Salford, Poor Wee Me, is a semi-autobiographical tale written, produced and directed by Salfordian Simon Powell. It’s the first feature release from him and his film company Friday Night Films, which he runs with Dan Nightingale the cinematographer for PWM.
Kobestarr meets with Simon, who himself was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, in the closing stages of Poor Wee Me’s post production, prior to the premier screening in Manchester.
Simon got into filmmaking after becoming disillusioned with life as a fitness instructor. Following a wrongful sacking, which lead to an out of court settlement he entered “The Bruntwood Playwriting Competition” for Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.
“It was a 45 minute play that was read in the studio,” explains Simon. “It gave me the confidence and the assurance that I can come up with an idea, write it, finish it and submit it. I got positive feedback on my character writing, which was a boost and it kind of went on from there.”
After as short period working at Salfords Red Cinema he met future Friday Night Films business partner Dan Nightingale. After realising that they had a lot of similar interests and they decided to make a short film. Simple really! That short film was “Wishful Thinking” in 2004 that was written and produced by Simon directed by Dan and featured as part of Salford Film Festival.
“That was our film school really” Says Simon. “From that we made another short, taking what we learned from the first one and put it into the second one. That project was ‘The World According to Liam Lovell’, about a guy living with Asperger Syndrome that I wrote, produced and directed.” Simon then reflects on his early steps into the film industry. “The only reason that I worked as a producer was because I wanted to get my work out there. I never set out to be a writer, producer director. I just wanted to be a writer. That’s my passion!” Surely that is testament to the adage that if you want something enough and work hard enough then you can make it happen. Liam Lovell was release in 2006 and was distributed by the British Film Council at all major festivals around the world. “That again gave us further confidence that we had evolved, learned from our mistakes and that we’d improve”
The following project was also due to be a short film but then Simon had a change of heart. “I thought that the idea of another short film wouldn’t challenge us so I said to Dan that I was thinking of writing a feature that could film for next to nothing so that we could learn and develop. I kept on coaxing him with DVD’s and books such as Robert Rodriguez’s (Director of El Mariachi, Sin City and err…Spy Kids) book ‘Rebel without a Crew’, that inspired me to just actually do it! I wrote a feature drama and we shot it at weekends here there and everywhere over a period of 18 months.” That film is Poor Wee Me.
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As well as Paul Hurstfield, Poor Wee Me features Anthony Crank, Michelle Holmes and Tim Booth, best known as the lead singer of Manchester band James and is due to premier on 27th June. After the screening in Manchester the aim is to sell PWM to a distributor so that hopefully the whole world can see it. There’s no rest for the wicked however as Simon and Friday Night Films already have a the next three projects in the mill. These are currently “Rose Gold”, which is at the end of pre production and should start filming in 2011, “Scorpio” (the first feature that Simon actually wrote) and “King for a Day”, which has been written with Ray Winstone in mind.
“In a nutshell,” he surmises “the reason why I pursued film was to pursue something that I was always going to do, which was something creative. I honestly can’t think of anything else that I would do with my life apart from writing, which is my main passion and hustling to make the film. Poor Wee Me has been a fantastic learning curve for everyone. It’s a film that we area all incredibly proud of, especially me, Dan and Paul just because we have done it. We’ve achieved it on a budget of £1380, it’s a miracle really that we have done that!”
Images: Kate Butler