From Train Conductor to the Criminal Underworld: Meet Filmmaker Barrie Willacott
March 7, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
After screening his film to raise money for charity, filmmaker Barrie Willacott is hoping for even greater success this year.
South Wales is not usually the setting for a film about fast cars, gangsters and a footballer’s fall from grace – that is until the arrival of Barrie Willacott, whose debut feature film, Contract, was screened last year with proceeds going towards the Alzheimer’s Society. Barrie spoke to The Fresh Outlook about his work and how he hopes to raise even more money with his next project.
Barrie, 35, is a train conductor with Arriva Trains Wales and has been for the past 11 years. However, he firmly believes that it is never too late to follow a passion. “I have been interested in screenplay writing since school and have written several scripts. I decided to make a short film to get my portfolio up and running. It was very hard work juggling my full-time work with making the film,” says Barrie, who lives in Cardiff with his wife Elizabeth and three children – Lauren, nine, Callum, seven, and Kieran, four.
Barrie says having no formal training didn’t stop him from trying: “Guy Ritchie is my directorial inspiration. His films have their own unique style and one I find very interesting.
“The idea behind the story for Contract evolved over time from an idea I had about two years ago. I am a train conductor and meet many different people. I like to gauge conversation with these people and then recount these conversations later on and try to picture how these people could fit into the criminal underworld, my chosen genre. It was during these recounts that the story evolved, putting normal people into a situation involving gangsters.
“As it was my first film, I used my friends as actors as I felt more comfortable directing them. However, the logistics were a nightmare as I do shift work, as do most of them.”
Another issue Barrie faced was funding. “The only funding I had was £100 donated by a friend Martin Britton. It was hard going, but considering the lack of funding, I think the end product was not bad,” he says.
With just a small camera and a laptop, Barrie and his crew explored the local area to find shooting locations, which proved difficult. After sending numerous emails to no avail, Hereford United Football Club kindly consented to filming at their stadium.
“Most locations were local, but we had to travel to Hereford for the football ground scene. We had one chance to shoot this scene and it was freezing cold and extremely foggy. It was also the one day in the year that the fire alarms were being tested at the ground. Every couple of minutes there was an alarm going off, which is quite annoying when you are filming!”
Barrie says he is hoping to obtain more funds for his next project, which is again in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society: “My wife Elizabeth and I had been considering doing some charitable work for a while. She was a huge help with the charity element for this project, without which we would not have succeeded. The Alzheimer’s Society is close to us both as Alzheimer’s has affected both of our families.”
Barrie describes his next project as a “justice vs revenge film”, which will leave viewers debating right and wrong. He hopes that this film will be even more of a success and raise lots of money for the Alzheimer’s Society. “I have a cinematographer with a good CV on board and am actively seeking amateur actors, so I am hoping for a much more crisp and professional looking film,” he says. “It should be ready for a premiere screening in the summer.”
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By Anindita Mondal
[Image courtesy of Barrie Willacott]