ONE of the most eagerly awaited events of the year starts tomorrow as Borderlines Film Festival brings more than 200 screenings of 80-plus films to 32 venues in Herefordshire and South Shropshire.
Among the highlights of this year’s festival is the UK premiere of the first film written and directed by Jack Eve, one member of a family that could be described as something of a creative dynasty. And the family has been critical in bringing Jack’s vision to the screen. Death of a Farmer, an account of the last three days in the life of a man struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death, was produced by Jack’s sister, Alice, and stars both his father, Trevor Eve, and his mother, Sharon Maughan and family friend, Anthony Head, who starred with Sharon in the Gold Blend ads in the late eighties. And Jack’s younger brother, George wrote the film’s score.
Explaining the genesis of the movie, and its theme, Jack says: “I think it was because I grew up in California and then when I was eight we moved back to England and we moved to West Sussex, which was profoundly different from the urban Californian landscape. It was all lush countryside in England. It was a whole new world and quite a big adjustment.
“When I came to write this script, it was written around what I had access to. I wrote it around locations I could use and West Sussex was one of those because my parents had a small cottage there.
“It’s not a film about farming,” says Jack. “It’s more about the human condition, and about the isolation that farmers might experience in terms of their level of interaction with other people. The film plummets into the last three days of Gordon’s life.”
Made on a budget of just £30,000 Jack admits the film could not have happened without the help of family and friends. “When anyone makes a film you have to make use of the available resources, and I’m fortunate to have had fantastic resources,” he says.
Jack is a graduate of RADA, but reveals that film making was always the goal. “But I have such respect for the craft of acting that I felt I had a duty to study it before directing.”
Trevor, though, is happier working as producer or in front of the camera: “Acting has always been the thing I do best,” says Trevor, who first came to public recognition in Shoestring in the 80s and has been a firm fixture on TV screens and stage since.
He was not, he says, tempted to offer Jack any advice. “He wrote the script and he was very clear about what he wanted. I was there, employed as an actor, and it was a remarkable experience. He was absolutely brilliant, and I am full of admiration.”
The soundtrack was inspired by Gordon’s back story. “We came to the conclusion that he was a bit of a London musician so the instrument in Gordon’s head is a simple guitar, which George is fantastic at playing.
“I am very pleased with the finished film,” says Jack. “I’ve learned a lot making it.”
“I think it’s a massive achievement,” says Trevor. “It’s hard to be objective when you’re in something, but I find it a really haunting film. It has a European quality, and absorbs you and takes you in. It’s about getting inside this man’s ever disintegrating head, and the result is very poetic.”
Death of a Farmer was first screened at Dinard Film festival at which Jack’s sister Alice was a judge. “She showed the Blu-ray to the festival director who said, ‘we’ll do a screening’. It was good fun, and we all went together.
It was the first time it had been shown to an audience and it was a really interesting occasion - very special because I had never watched it with an audience. People I spoke to afterwards, and many were film industry people, were very complimentary.
“It was a professional audience, says Trevor, so the response was very encouraging.
The UK premiere is coming up at Borderlines, but ahead of the screening on Wednesday, Jack is in Los Angeles, in the later stages of development of his next project, which will star his sister Alice. “”It’s certainly drawn some attention to the project having her involved,” he says. “We’re both very excited about making it,” adding only that “it’s about a very powerful woman.”
While Jack has been in LA, Trevor recently performed at Buckingham Palace at a reception to celebrate 110 years of the dramatic arts. “It was quite amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he says.
When you work on a film you’re always working with family,” says Jack, reflecting on the advantages and disadvantages of working with family. “
As much as we started as me, my mother and my brother, after two hours on day one, everyone was family. It was fantastic.”
For full festival details, go to borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk