Ramsgate, a Victorian seaside town in the county of Kent on England’s east coast, isn’t exactly in the movie mainstream. But that’s what producer Elaine Wickham and writer-director Jan Dunn like about it.
They came to Ramsgate, 78 miles southeast of London, to shoot their well-received micro-budget debut “Gypo” in 2005, and never left.
Their production company, Medb Films (pronounced Maeve), occupies the basement of the Royal Harbour Hotel, whose owner is also their business partner. “It’s like a studio deal,” laughs Wickham, a South African expat. “He pays our overhead.”
Last year they made “Ruby Blue,” starring Bob Hoskins as a lonely old man suspected by his neighbors of being a pedophile.
This summer they are shooting their third Kentish film in as many years, “The Calling,” about a girl who wants to become a nun, starring Brenda Blethyn as the mother superior.
Wickham has pulled together coin for “The Calling” from Kent County Council, Screen South, Maidstone Studios, Courtyard Studios and private investors who all want to see filmmaking flourish in Kent.
Medb has its own post-production suite, which it rents out to other indies at bargain rates, and runs a nonprofit training scheme for locals that, after three films, is building up quite a community of skilled crew.
Wickham says that being in Ramsgate, raising coin locally and working with local crews and companies gives her and Dunn true independence to make the films they want without artistic interference — oh, and to go surfing in the mornings before work.