SPACE pirate and alien life forms could soon be seen zooming around the Lake District – thanks to a new million dollar movie.
Old Hutton writer and director Rick McLeod has teamed up with a group of American producers to make a science fiction film based on cult television series Firefly.
The US consortium, one of whom has done sound-tracks for Mr McLeod in the past, originally began filming experimental sequences in county – but then the idea turned into a feature-length film.
Although $1 million is a relatively small budget for a movie, Mr McLeod said he was ‘shocked’ when the group gave the figure.
“Last year was a good one for us – we’re still reeling from that – so when they approached me my first question was ‘Are you serious?’
“It’s not easy to make films in Cumbria, especially with the UK Film Council gone. When we had Leslie Grantham here, he was unpaid because he loved the script.
“It’s great to know that our hard work is starting to pay off.”
The film, called Lost Transmission, follows the lonely adventure of Blake, captain of a mining ship, with no-one but his computer to talk to after war breaks out on Earth. But he leaves the planet to find life on other worlds.
Filming is expected to start in early 2012, and will be split between Cumbria and America.
CGI effects are already being worked on by the studio, which created a castle in the middle of Windermere in a previous flick.
Before filming begins in earnest, Mr McLeod is shooting a short promotional video with action sequences in Old Hutton.
And he is looking for ‘23rd century pirates’ to star as extras in a fight scene on Sunday, to be led by a trained fight choreographer.
“We’re seeking punks, goths and heavy rockers. Long or short hair, tattoos and piercings are a bonus but not essential. The more outrageous the look the better,” said Mr McLeod.
Filming will last for between two and three hours and anyone interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants are requested to send a head shot with their email.
Discussions with actors to play the role of Blake are still going on.
TWO thirds of the red kites released in Grizedale Forest last summer have survived the harsh winter.
Wildlife rangers believe that around 20 of the 30 birds released in the Forestry Commission’s three-year re-introduction programme made it through the winter and are still in Cumbria, or nearby counties. Between five and eight of the birds are believed to be living around Grizedale and the Rusland Valley, with another three to five inhabiting the Kirkby Moor area near Ulverston.
Four more Grizedale red kites have been spotted by RSPB experts at feeding stations in Dumfries and Galloway – the furthest known movement is by the bird tagged as number four, which has flown 120km north west into Scotland.
“The birds are doing pretty much exactly as we expected, which is very encouraging,” said Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger. “We are more confident that these birds will make it to adults now they have made it through a harsh winter. Sadly we lost a few birds but that is natural and why we have to release the numbers that we did.”
The 30 red kites released from a secret location in Grizedale Forest in August last year had coloured tags on each wing. An orange tag on their left wing shows they are from Grizedale, and blue tags on their right wings indicate that they were released in 2010. Some birds were also fitted with radio transmitters to help with monitoring.
Mr Yoxall, who has been following the birds’ movements around Cumbria, said the help he has received from the public had been invaluable. “I have been radio tracking the birds but sightings from members of the public have been a fantastic help and greatly appreciated. This has been very important because it helps us find the birds and backs up our radio tracking results to give us a more robust picture of their movements. We hope that the public will continue letting us know when and where they make sightings of the red kites.”
This year’s birds will hatch in May and are likely to be released into Grizedale Forest in August. The red kites being introduced into Grizedale are the product of a reintroduction programme that took place in Northamptonshire in the 1980s.
Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries. But they managed to cling on in Wales, and their numbers recovered slowly thanks to the actions of local conservationists