News Column

Zombies prove there is life in Essex film scene ; Spencer Hawken's Death Walks to kick-start local movies [Edition 4]

August 7, 2013


SOME genres will never die - and like the zombies in the film being shot in Romford there will always be room for more.

Death Walks is a horror tale unlike most others, not least because it is not costing a penny to make. None of the cast or producers is being paid - even though the final cut is expected to look and feel like it has Pounds 500,000 of investment behind it.

The man behind the film is Spencer Hawken, who started penning the script after he was made redundant from Debenhams last year.

He was finding investment hard to come by and so he turned to crowdsourcing - and was astonished by the response he received.

The Mercury Mall shopping centre is the backdrop to the movie. It begins with a woman coming to the door while the cinema is closing up and people and security guards are still inside. Concerned They become so concerned about her welfare that they bring her in unwittingly along with something else. Mr Hawken, 40, said: The film is designed to be a springboard to Essex talent, whether they work in front of or behind the camera.

So we have make-up artists, special effects, performers, camera, sound, and so on, all from Brentwood through to Chelmsford and the surrounding areas. All of these people are volunteering their time in the hope of being spotted due to being associated with such a major project.

So far the project has included up to 400 people, and at times up to 250 people on set at any one time.

The father-of-three, who grew up in Harold Wood and now lives in Brentwood, added: We are trying to make a film that is saleable and that appeals to a global market because of the zero budget.

Money that is made will be reinvested in the community, by making a fund in Mercury's name that independent filmmakers can go to in order to secure cash for projects.

It would be their payment if you like for giving us free rein over the centre since July 15.

The cast and crew have managed to make the film the number one highest ranked British horror movie currently in production, and the eighth highest ranked British film in production.

We are just behind Paddington Bear, and miles ahead of movie franchises, Hawken said.

Some of our cast who were unknown at the time of starting production have now picked up work in the likes of Downton Abbey and East-Enders, while some of our more established performers have now started to get calls for work again.

On the whole the project is doing what we wanted it to do, and if nothing else it proves that if you have the right persuasion skills, and a good story you can get people together to create a movie, and not one that looks cheap.

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