Backlot

5 April
The Yard

Cheetham Hill's The Yard hosted the first Backlot film night to a packed audience this month. The premise is to showcase Manchester's budding filmmaking talents by sharing the fruits of their labour with a wider crowd, then providing opportunity to pose questions to the creators and enable networking between locally based directors, writers, actors and other interested parties.

Opening up the programme was The Clown, a largely dialogue-less deliberation on the metaphorical masks we wear, the emotions we hide and the ways we see and are seen. Being overly critical, there's a continuity flaw in the cab scenes, but that's forgivable on learning during the Q&A that these were done in one take.

JD Investigates is a mini-series posted on YouTube that sees its protagonist, a self-described David Brent-a-like, conduct tongue-in-cheek interviews interspersed with slapstick montages. The Backlot audience was treated to his second serving of socially awkward satire, The SAS.













The night's compere, John Tueart, then appears as the co-lead, Karl, in a psychological thriller, Confinement, alongside Nicole Evans (Lilly). His character's confused and erratic questions may take a little while to find answers, but this only serves to heighten the viewer's intrigue in preparation of a finale that remains open to interpretation, but wouldn't look out of place on a speed awareness course.

The longest of the four shorts, Maid of Stars, also boasts accomplished production and by far the largest cast, who combine to depict the telephone conversations experienced by a tarot reader. From humour to heartache, the story becomes a journey evoking a range of emotive responses.

While all four films were self-funded passion projects, between them they displayed the breadth of the promising big screen projects bubbling in Greater Manchester at the moment and whet the appetite for future editions of Backlot.

Ian Pennington