'Northern Girl' - the £900 Sheffield budget-film that's causing a stir over the Atlantic

A Sheffield film about precarious employment, lifelong debt, and unfulfilled ambitions has made a splash at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 1:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 11:08 am
‘Northern Girl’ made by Sheffield-based film collaborative Well Red Films has shown at ‘Awareness Film Festival’ in LA

‘Northern Girl’ was created by a truly northern team working on location in Broomhill and cost just £900 to make. It centres on the story of a Emma, an ambitious middle-class woman who decides to move to London in an effort to procure her ‘big break’ but quickly realises big city life is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Screenwriter David Kirkham says: “I updated the post-war ‘kitchen sink’ drama concept and brought it into the 21st century, drawing on my own experience of working and living, mercifully briefly, in London and the negative effects it had on my wellbeing.

“In the film, we see the daily montage of Emma’s life consists of clinging to the greasy career ladder. When she meets her partner they escape back up north.

‘Northern Girl’ features local people and was filmed primarily in Sheffield

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“London has such a tight hold over the labour market, hence the lives and living conditions of so many people who live there. Millions are effectively forced to move there if they want to get work in a particular career or to ‘move up the career ladder.’ We wanted to project not only the immediate frustrations that having to move to London brings to young people, but also the effects of centralised, metropolitan power and dominance in most areas of all our lives. ”

The film, which was funded by WellRed Films, features a northern cast, including many from Sheffield itself, and was shot at a number of locations across the city in 2016.

David adds: “From our first script meeting through to the final cut, it took two months to create. As with most low-budget films we roped in willing friends to play different parts; all the shop customers are my buddies. Most of the film was shot in Broomhill and the city centre. The shop where Emma works is actually the old ‘Woolworths' on The Moor in its ’Theatre Deli’ days. We did a mad dash down the M1 to London in Barbara’s car for the day to film the tube station and traffic scene.”

The film has been well received in the UK and the US, after opening at the Workers Unite Festival in New York’s Greenwich Village in 2016.

‘Northern Girl’ made by Sheffield-based film collaborative Well Red Films

And earlier this month, the film was shown as part of the 11-day Awareness Film Festival in LA, along with 100 other feature-length and short films.

David adds: “We think this film packs a punch worthy of many a blockbuster. It portrays the effects that the financialisation of our world has caused since the old industries declined in the developed world and how control by the 1 per cent reaches into every aspect of our lives.

"To have our first drama short screen at a major cinema in Los Angeles gives us all such a sense of accomplishment.”

Visit vimeo.com/wellredfilms to see the film.