Production on John Tomkins’ paranoid thriller They’re Coming is well underway in Torbay. Torquay-based filmmaker John has assembled a plethora of local talent from around Devon to work on his latest project– the story of an ordinary man who finds himself caught in extraordinary circumstances. I recently attended fight rehearsals for the film at the Riviera Centre Lifestyle Gym in Torquay, and caught up with both John and leading man Tom Menary (of Plymouth-based Wingless Films).
Sean Wilson: John, your new film They’re Coming – what’s it about?
John Tomkins: It’s an action adventure thriller with a dash of Agatha Christie thrown in. The film is about a guy called David Yorke who meets up with his friend in a cafe for a chat. Then his wife phones him up saying, ‘I’m going to leave you’. He gets back to his flat and she’s disappeared – think of Harrison Ford in Frantic. He then spends the movie searching for his wife.
SW: This is exciting because your film is shot in and around Torbay!
JT: That’s right. I’ve chosen Torbay because, one, it’s easier to film here seeing as I live in the area! But the location itself is perfect, it’s so beautiful and picturesque, and was featured in so many films of the 1950s. I want to bring Torbay back into the limelight because it’s got all these windy little streets and of course the lovely sea-front – my aim is to show off Torbay to its full potential.
SW: So you clearly believe that this can put Torbay on the map?
JT: Definitely. When you enter a project, you always wonder how it will work out. But I’ve got full confidence due to the cast and crew I’ve assembled.
SW: Who are some of the people you’ve managed to get on-board?
JT: Well Tom Menary is playing David Yorke. He’s from Plymouth and is part of Wingless Films along with Jim Elton. Tom is unique because he’s actually writing his own lines! He studied Creative Writing, which of course helps. Then we’ve got Jim on-board as director of photography; Michael Woodcroft as the stunt/fight co-ordinator; Dom Lee as composer – just a whole host of people from across the south-west. I’m amazed at what’s happening but I’m trying to keep myself grounded.
SW: You’ve got a right to be excited!
JT: I am excited! But I try and use the Spielberg analogy in that, if you surround yourself with the right people in the right place, things can happen. I’m looking around today, we’re at the Riviera Centre and the Lifestyles Gym have let us train here – that’s the sort of generosity to be found in Torbay.
SW: So, we’re watching the training for the fight sequences at the moment. What are your influences and what films have you watched?
JT: I love Inception, although we don’t have people on wires. But I love The Fugitive. There was a brilliant sequence with Harrison Ford and the baddie where they fight on the rooftop. We’ve got a rooftop fight in They’re Coming! We’re also going to have a fight in a corridor, but again it’s about bringing the right people forward. Surrounding oneself with experts is the way ahead.
I’m hoping that because this film is Devon-wide, as opposed to Torbay-wide on my previous project [Like an Angel], the word will spread. So you’ve got the guys from Plymouth spreading the word there, the guys from Exeter spreading it there and so on. It’s a feature film and generating quite a bit of interest as a result!
To find out more about They’re Coming, visit the official website: www.tcfilm.co.uk.
Sean Wilson: So Tom, what is your background in performance and films?
Tom Menary: [Jim Elton] and I have been running Wingless Films for just over a year now, but I’ve always been interested in making films. When I was younger, my Dad had an old cassette camera. We used to make experimental films, stop motion and things. I got back into that when I was in college and wanted to carry it on in terms of writing, acting, music and production.
SW: So today you’ve been rehearsing the fight sequences for They’re Coming. Have you been involved in physical roles like this before?
TM: Not particularly. There have been a couple of films where I’ve thrown myself around but I’ve not been involved with choreographed stunts. So to plan a sequence ahead of time has been interesting – and fun!
SW: In the film, you play David Yorke. Can you explain a bit more about the character himself?
TM: David Yorke is the protagonist, who receives a call from his wife saying that she’s going to leave him and that he shouldn’t try to find her. So of course he does try to find her. He’s been sent this message ‘They’re Coming’, like a ransom note, so he’s trying to uncover the mystery of who ‘they’ are, where his wife is, and how his friends are involved. It’s a thriller, it keeps moving; in fact that’s one of the things I loved about the script, he’s always on the move and has to keep going. It’s very interesting to play.
SW: Did the mixture of action and intrigue in the script appeal to you?
TM: Yes, it’s something I haven’t done before, this Harrison Ford style thriller. It’s great fun to play someone in that kind of mould.
SW: You star in your own movies as part of Wingless Films with Jim Elton. Are you tied to a particular genre of film?
TM: We do try and experiment. There’s one we’ve made recently called Intervention which is very different from what we’ve done before. It’s a dialogue piece, it’s a two-hander between Bill Sheikh and myself. Usually we work in sci-fi and fantasy, and sometimes drama with a degree of human interest. Whatever takes our fancy really!
SW: So what’s next on the horizon?
TM: We’re making a one minute short for [micro-cinema practice] Imperfect Cinema in Plymouth. That’s currently in the edit stage. It’s about choice, random incident and chance. There are a few more projects on the horizon, too. We’re involved in things outside of Wingless Films – we’re trying to do as much as we can really!
• To see Tom and Jim’s work, visit the Wingless Films channel on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/user5888460 and Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/WinglessFilms/featured