Northumberland licensing councillors to classify Stocksfield writer’s film

AWRITER is to have her new film exposed to the critical gaze of a panel of elected councillors – so that it can be shown to audiences at village halls and community centres in Northumberland.

A WRITER is to have her new film exposed to the critical gaze of a panel of elected councillors – so that it can be shown to audiences at village halls and community centres in Northumberland.

In rare move, licensing councillors will sit down to watch the 15-minute film next week, and decide what classification it should be given for public screenings.

The 15-minute “webdrama” Celia – written and directed by Rachel Cochrane, from Stocksfield in the Tyne Valley – is the pilot for what is intended to be a six-episode monologue-style drama about a respectable middle-aged woman suffering a mid-life crisis.

It was initially made to be viewed via the internet only, but then Rachel, 50, decided she would like to be able to show it to a wider audience at film clubs in community buildings across the county.

To do that the film has to be officially classified, with a rating, and that will be done by the county council’s licensing committee – the first time the unitary authority has been asked to perform such a task.

Next week the film will be given a special screening for committee members at County Hall in Morpeth.

Celia was filmed entirely in one bedroom, using two cameras and at extremely low cost, and Rachel has asked the council to classify it because taking it to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) would have been more expensive. The monologue reveals the thoughts of a married mother-of-two who is facing a major dilemma after becoming attracted to a married man at the village gardening society where both are members, with each episode giving different snapshots of her life.

Yesterday Rachel said: “I made Celia as a webdrama but then felt I would also like to take it out to film clubs for older people who are not necessarily big on the internet or social media. I did some research and realised it needed a classification to be screened publicly at places like village halls. It would cost quite a lot to take it to the BBFC and they advised me that the county council could do it.

“There are some sexual references and a bit of innuendo in the film but nothing absolutely risque about it, so I would image it will be rated 12A or 15. I believe the screening next week will be a first for Northumberland County Council, and I hope the committee members enjoy the film.

“It was made with virtually no budget. My daughter Rosie composed and played the theme music, and Shirley Anne Wood and actress Penny Lamport gave their time free to do the camera work and play Celia. I’m hoping to attract some funding to make the rest of the series, and perhaps have some advertising on the film.”

Licensing committee member, Coun Ian Hutchinson, said: “It’s very rare that we are asked to classify a movie. The only time we have ever done anything similar in my experience was at the former Tynedale Council when we had to decide on an application to lower the grading for Spiderman. We all gathered in the Forum Cinema in Hexham to watch the movie, and had the whole place to ourselves.”

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