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'Hollywood' comes to Elland as crew shoots new movie at Rex cinema

Writer/director Ross is inspired by childhood memories to make Hollywood Boulevard

Feature film being shot at the Rex cinema, Elland - Actors Bill Blackwood and Monica Sagar

Film-maker Ross Birks looked back to his youth for inspiration for his feature-length movie debut.

The 25-year-old writer/director, based in Brighouse, is currently shooting Hollywood Boulevard at Elland’s Rex cinema, the vintage picturehouse that he visited as a child.

The first block of filming began last month and will be completed before Christmas, with the crew returning in early 2017 for the remainder.

Hollywood Boulevard, a comedy/thriller, stars Monica Sagar as Maxine, a small town cinema worker who encounters a handful of strange characters on her birthday.

The cast also includes Stefan Gumbs, from Looking for Eric and TV’s Waterloo Road, as Scott, along with Guy Walker, a regular collaborator with Ross, as Felix.

The film is a step up from Ross’s prolific output as a maker of pop promos and shorts, some of which have been screened widely on the festival circuit.

He said: “After making short films for the past few years I felt it was time to be a bit more ambitious and put together a feature film.

“It makes sense commercially. With modern technology and streaming platforms there is more opportunity for distribution and exposure for features as opposed to shorts. The trick is to create something unique and individual. I felt that using a small British cinema for a backdrop would give it that unique quality.”

Feature film being shot at the Rex cinema, Elland - Actors Monica Sagar and Guy Walker with Writer/Director Ross Birks and crew

There are benefits to setting everything in one location, especially given that Ross and actor/producer Guy are self-funding the project. Having the support of Charles Morris, owner of the Rex, means production costs are being kept low.

The Rex was previously seen on screen in 1999 in Fanny & Elvis, written and directed by Kay Mellor.

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“I used to visit The Rex as a child and always remember it as being a very cinematic and special location,” said Ross. “I’m hoping to make the owners proud and, in a perfect world, make a film that travels the globe and inspires people far and wide to visit the Rex. If it wasn’t for this cinema, the project wouldn’t exist.”

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Feature film being shot at the Rex cinema, Elland - Actors Bill Blackwood and Monica Sagar

Guy has praised the quality of his partner’s script which, he says, has attracted a talented and committed cast and crew “practically for pocket change” in comparison to industry-funded projects.

“We’re looking to edit the first half of the film over Christmas and use it to potentially gain some additional funding and talent. If not, we’ll come back and finish it off our own backs.”

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