Durham: Alun Armstrong horror film premiere at Fright Fest


A FILM that brings a long-standing story of rural County Durham to life in a spooky way will premiere at the upcoming Fright Fest in Leicester Square in London.

Veteran North East actor Alun Armstrong takes the helm of The Nicky Nack – a horror short film, which follows the terrifying torment of a man just trying to get home from the pub.

Haunted by a lingering sound that will not leave him alone, the man is seized with terror as the events come to their dramatic conclusion.

Based on the little-known legend of the nicky nack, the film was shot in 2019 in the Croxdale pub, The Daleside Arms which for many years took its name from the disturbing history.

The Covid lockdown has delayed the post-production process, but the film is now complete and has been selected for the UK’s largest international thriller, fantasy and horror festival.

Producer Hugo Nicholson, from the North East, said: “Everyone is absolutely delighted that The Nicky Nack is premiering at such a prestigious event. Fright Fest was at the top of our list in terms of festivals we wanted to attend, so we’re very excited to see the film on the big screen in front of their audiences. ”

He added, “The movie has been a bit of a dream all along. Whether it was casting a legend like Alun Armstrong as the protagonist or finding out that the pub named after the story we were telling actually provided the perfect location for the shoot, it was fantastic.

The Nicky Nack will have its world premiere on Friday after being shortlisted for the Fright Fest Short Film Showcase, which features short films from 10 countries and is renowned for being an extremely competitive field.

Hugo co-wrote The Nicky Nack with longtime director and collaborator Tom Oxenham.

Hugo said, “We were actually writing something else and procrastinating so that you could say The Nicky Nack was born out of putting things off until later.

“Somehow I started telling Tom this story that my dad – who worked at the Vaux Brewery in Sunderland – used to tell us if we ever went that way.

“We talked about making a movie and wrote it in two days – which sounds impressive, but it’s only two pages.”

Hugo and Tom then teamed up with Villager Films – as well as executive producer Richard Peskin – to kick off production.

Hugo said: “Villager was essential to the development, filming and delivery of the project – as was executive producer Richard Peskin, who gave us the push we needed to make this film.”

Tom added: “The story had all the hallmarks of a great British pub legend: a clear structure, an unlikely plot, and an absurd anti-climax. We decided early on that there would be no dialogue in the film – other than Nicky Nack – with an emphasis on visual storytelling.

“The nicky nack has many different versions, depending on who you ask: the devil appears in one, another has it as a joke gone bad. I love that our film will add yet another version and having the opportunity to shoot in the real story pub, makes the film closer to folklore, becoming a small part of its rich history.

In addition to the Fright Fest, The Nicky Nack has also been officially selected for the upcoming Bolton and Norwich Film Festivals, both of which are BAFTA qualified.

Meanwhile, plans to have a screening of the film in The Daleside Arms are in the works, to give the largely Northeastern team the opportunity to come together and celebrate their work on set.

Owner Michael Patterson said he and his team were delighted to welcome the team and that their ad provides a backdrop to the film. He said: “We are honored to have been part of a fantastic reproduction of a very unique part of our local history.”

Hugo added: “I am always enthusiastic and looking for ways to work in the North East and of course for this project our leader was also at home. It would be great if we could arrange to show the movie in the pub at some point – it seems fair since that’s where the legend was born.

The Nicky Nack is a co-production between Master of None and Villager Films. Directed by Tom Oxenham, the film is produced by Hugo Nicholson and Georgia Woolley and its executive producer is Richard Peskin. Shot on location in County Durham, the film stars Alun Armstrong as The Man and will premiere at Fright Fest, Leicester Square in London on August 27. For more information, visit www.masterofnone.productions.

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