LONDON — The rapturous reception given Anton Corbijn’s biopic of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, “Control,” at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is still being relished in England’s East Midlands region.
Regional screen agency EM Media co-financed the project that shot almost entirely in Nottingham.
“The success of ‘Control’ brings a tremendous excitement and confidence to EM Media and filmmaking talent in the region,” says Lizzie Francke, exec producer for the East Midlands org, which injected £250,000 ($500,000) into “Control.”
So how did the East Midlands end up subbing for Manchester, so closely identified with not only Joy Division but also a wealth of other influential bands?
“The ‘Control’ producers approached the fund because the locations worked for their needs, and the project was strongly supported by my predecessor, Kate Ogborn, and the rest of the EM team,” Francke says.
“EM Media is committed to backing talent and trusting that talent,” adds Francke, who says an EM Media project must satisfy two conditions: “have the potential to make a real difference to the region and be an example of bold British cinema.”
“Control” ticked both those boxes, securing work for 28 regionally based crew members and generating inward investment of $4 million to Nottingham.
“Control,” which unspools at the Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival, is by no means the first critical success for EM Media.
The profile of the agency has been enhanced by its deep ties with auteur Shane Meadows. The service acted as co-producer on Meadows’ “This Is England,” “Dead Man’s Shoes” and “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands,” and the director has been instrumental in helping develop other regional talent alongside EM.
“Shane is essential to the whole East Midlands project. His example of just going out and making films with real people should be a lesson to young filmmakers across the U.K.,” Francke says. EM recently partnered with Warp Films and Film4 to make Meadows’ 100-plus early shorts available online.
Although a typical EM Media project is a bit edgy and low-budget, attracting bigger productions to the region is also a priority. EM co-financed the adaptation of Blake Morrison’s “And When Did You Last See Your Father?” starring Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent, and high-profile pics including “Atonement,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “The Golden Compass” and “Pride & Prejudice” have shot in the region.
With so much going on, Francke says that “there’s definitely something in the water in the Trent. It is a place of incredibly good filmmaking practice.”