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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Film-maker hoping for horror hit
By Arthur Strain
BBC News website

After 30 years of terrorism an independent film-maker is hoping a more ancient horror will help change perceptions of Northern Ireland.

Mourne film poster
The film is set in the Mourne Mountains

Andy Smith, from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, aims to bring a film crew into the Mourne Mountains in County Down to bring the legend of the werewolf to life in his film, Mourne.

Set in the fictional village of Mourne a group of American paranormal investigators arrive to look into the claims of a panicked farmer that a werewolf has attacked his sheep.

They soon discover that a dark legend lives and split into groups to track the fearsome beastie.

The script features helicopter crashes, double crosses, backpackers being ripped to shreds, black comedy and a twist in the tale that leaves room for a sequel.

Mr Smith, writer and star of the project, said he had the story idea four years ago, but that recent adventures in film-making had given him the push to bring it to life.

Last year the 29-year-old decided to try acting and was offered an extra part in Code Black an independent film made in Columbus, Ohio, by Cinema Lexzikon.

Director William Lee boosted Mr Smith into the role of lead bad guy and so his adventures in independent film-making began.

Andy Smith
For so long all we have been known for is the Troubles, I think it's time Northern Ireland was talked about for a different reason
Andy Smith

Filming on Mourne is to start in February 2007, with Mr Lee taking on the directorial role, but work has already began on making the monster and the computer generated imagery associated with it.

Mr Smith is keen on werewolf lore and said that they were using CGI for establishing shots, with make-up being used to mark the lunar metamorphosis from man to beast and a mechanical creature for closer shots.

"With CGI sometimes the transformation is really quick, but it is not meant to be like that, it is meant to be painful - that's the curse," he said.

An American based designer is creating the physical wolf and Yorkshire-based Sknnedesign is creating the computerised imagery.

"Since I started the project it has been like being fired out of a gun - everything has happened so fast," Mr Smith said.

He is seeking some funding from the UK Film Commission, but said that if it is not granted there should be enough contributions from private backers to bring the film to the screen.

This is not the first horror feature to have been shot in Northern Ireland with low budget features Nailed and Wilderness also being shot locally.

Mr Smith said that he hoped more films would take advantage of the spectacular local scenery and help present a different view of Northern Ireland.

An early version of the CG wolf
An early version of the CG wolf

"For so long all we have been known for is the Troubles, I think it's time Northern Ireland was talked about for a different reason," he said.

Casting in the United States has almost finished and Andy is about to jet off to the states to shoot film teasers.

He said that they hope to be able to cast locals in the film as extras and they have produced posters for local cinemas advertising the roles.

It is hoped the film will be released in September or October 2007 and while a lot of independent action films are straight to DVD releases Mr Smith said he hoped Mourne would get into local cinemas at least.

"People would like to see Northern Ireland on the big screen for something that is not about the Troubles or the usual sort of film," he added.




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