Ex-Harrogate Odeon staff member’s feature film on £12,000 budget

Film-maker Timothy Reynard outside the Harrogate Odeon. (110127M3a)
Film-maker Timothy Reynard outside the Harrogate Odeon. (110127M3a)

By Graham Chalmers

Sony Pictures may have pulled the plug recently on the premiere of their big budget film about North Korea’s dictator but a young former employee of Harrogate Odeon has enjoyed the world premiere of his latest truly indie movie, writes Graham Chalmers.

Timothy Reynard’s psychological thriller Let the Die be Cast: Initium was premiered at the Odeon in Oxford in front of a packed audience -as well as assorted members of the cast and the production team.

It’s the fifth film by Reynard, who is in his early 20s, and the most daring to date since he set up his own production company, DeCantilon Films as a schoolboy back in 2005.

The budget for this gripping full-length feature film may have only been £12,500, somewhere south of miniscule in comparison to the average Hollywood shoot, but he’s certainly produced plenty of bang for his bucks.

Timothy, who went to Nidderdale High School, said: “This film is a hugely ambitious ambitious undertaking for us as a fledglng company. We’re operating in a very competitive industry and I’m hoping the film will help raise our profile and future investment.”

The idea for the movie, which is set in a ghost town in a Mediterranean desert, was first hatched when Timothy worked at the Harrogate Odeon alongside fellow DeCantillon member, Alistair Hall.

Having written the script together with young screenwriter Oliver Welch, a young friend from Wetherby, the aim was to have the film wrapped up for release in 2012.

The saga of how Timothy’s the movie finally came to be premiered on the big screen is almost an epic in itself.

Alastair Hall, who went to St Peter’s School in York and worked as a producer on Let the Die be Cast, said the spirit in DeCantillon was as important as the budget when it came to actual film-making.

“The key thing is the friendly atmosphere when we are making films. It’s lovely on set and that spirit translates on screen. A lot of Timothy’s relatives get involved and it feels like you have been drawn into a giant family.”

The original aim was to raise more than £20,000 for the film’s shoot, which took place in southern Spain and parts of Oxfordshire.

But times are tight. Without the support of friends and family, the movie might never have been completed at all.

DeCantillon’s motto is “rise together” and it certainly applies to Let the Die be Cast.

At one point this small band of movie brothers shot a prologue in the countryside around Harrogate to use as a calling cards to raise funds.

But the production was eventually forced to embark on a Kickstarter campaign to raise further funds, capitalising on the stardust of a former X Factor finalist who had agreed to joined the cast.

A combination of crowd-funding and money from the filmmakers’ own pockets finally pushed the movie over the finishing line.

And the bright lights of a proper premieer at The Odeon in Oxford where Timothy lives now was their reward.

It’s possible to ask whether it’s worth the hassle but Timothy’s talent has already been spotted at the highest level.

He was once described by late movie legend Ken Russell in The Times as as “the future of film.”

The accolade came after Reynard’s film company, DeCantillon Films, produced the film Denied which was premiered with Russell in the audience at the Harrogate Odeon in 2008 while the production team were largely still students at St Aidan’s High School in Harrogate.

Later the movie was also featured in The Guardian.

Despite the tiny budgets, it would be wrong to see DeCantillon as an indie company in the sense of its stories and scale.

Reynard is determined to emulate the success of other famous low budget independent films such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, all of which were box office hits.

Timothy may have little in common with Sony Pictures whose spat with cyber-attackers believed to be linked to North Korea became international news but he thinks big.

Timothy said: “Our ultimate aim is to be the production team on a future James Bond production or to win an Academy award.”

www.decantillonfilms.com