The Light comes home to Manchester for Cornerhouse screening.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Simon James Cookson, winner of The Pitch 2012, has brought his winning film, The Light, back to his hometown for a screening. The film was partly shot in Manchester and this weekend got it’s first showing to an invited audience at The Cornerhouse in the city’s Oxford Street.

The Light is based on the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. It’s set in America in the 1950s during the Red Scare era. The 'Saul' character in the story suddenly rejects his former oppressive ways, but realises the biggest struggle will be to convince everyone else he’s truly a changed man.

Simon entered the competition as a writer, but ended up directing The Light, which is his first film. He faced the challenge of shooting a story set in 50’s America at locations in the UK. He chose his hometown to shoot some of the scenes last summer. So Matt and Phreds jazz club in Manchester was turned into a 50’s jazz venue and City Library Manchester featured as a police station.

“It's great to come full circle’, said Simon. ‘I was writing the pitch in my room back in Old Trafford a couple of years ago and to have it now screened here is nice, to compete the circle. It’s nice to have a home coming.’


It's a wrap!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Simon our film director has shot his first film The Light. Choosing Northwest locations to replicate 1950s America you could be forgiven for thinking the cameras weren’t across the pond!

The connections which Simon envisaged in his original pitch between a bible passage and the infamous McCarthy era have been executed. The parallels between Saul on his Damascene road experience and that of the Red Scare period are animated in this short film.

Behind the scenes at The Pitch film shoot



It’s safe to say that The Light has become an integral part of Simon’s life; after months of script development and character creation Simon’s dream has certainly ‘come to life’.  Here are his thoughts.



The Final rushes shot at Manchester Jazz Bar

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

As the day progresses and the final rushes are being shot at Matt and Phreds Jazz Bar, in Manchester, we managed to grab a few minutes with Simon Cookson our film director.

He tells us more about the idea behind his film 'The Light' set in the McCarthy era in 1950s America.



Back in time – Jazz club gets 50’s makeover for Pitch film shoot.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

It’s back to the 50’s for a jazz club in Manchester today, as it becomes the final location on The Light film shoot.

Taking Matt and Phreds, in the city’s Tibb Street, back six decades is the latest challenge for Director Simon Cookson, winner of The Pitch film competition, as he shoots a film set in the McCarthy era in 1950’s America. 

This morning it was an early call for the crew at Matt and Phreds where the 50’s makeover had to be complete before breakfast. 

In a short break before filming Simon said, ‘I love Manchester. It’s a great place to be. With places like the jazz bar I started to think these are locations we could go and with the right crew we could make it happen. And it’s worked perfectly.’

Since winning The Pitch Simon has spent months developing his script for The Light. Pitch entries have to be based on the Bible and Simon’s is inspired by Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.

Budding filmmakers keen to follow in Simon’s footsteps can register their interest for the next competition on The Pitch website now.Budding filmmakers keen to follow in Simon’s footsteps can register their interest for our next competition on our website now.

Manchester Locations working well for
1950s America

Monday, 17 June 2013

Our film director Simon Cookson has been working hard all weekend directing his short film ‘The Light’. Yesterday’s shoot in City Library Manchester worked well for a 1950s American police station whereas today we are situated in a private home in Didsbury on the outskirts of Manchester.

Time is always an issue on a shoot like this and today the crew are really working against the clock. Re-dressing a home and using a young child in a scene will always be challenging and time consuming.

Catching Simon on the shoot on a break today he says, “It’s going well. It’s really exciting seeing it all coming together.”  Before dashing back onto set again Simon says, “We have got our work cut out this afternoon though as we still have three scenes to shoot. The cast and crew are performing really well.  It is amazing to have such a great team – they are very talented.”

“It’s strange to think that someone reading this who hasn’t even thought of a Bible story or even read one might this time next year be stood in Simon’s shoes and on their way to Hollywood too,” muses Project Director Luke Walton.

Budding filmmakers keen to follow in Simon’s footsteps can register their interest for our next competition on our website now.

Simon Cookson says Manchester is a great place to shoot the film



Pitch Producer, Luke Walton, talks about why Simon's film idea won the competition



‘The Light’ Film shoot begins this Weekend 

Friday, 14 June 2013

The winner of this year’s Pitch film competition, Simon Cookson, a writer from Manchester starts his film shoot this weekend in North West England. Starting on Saturday, the filming will be on disused rail tracks at Thornton-Cleveleys near Fleetwood before moving onto various locations around Manchester over the following days.

Since being crowned overall winner Simon has spent months developing his script and along with his production crew has been busy sourcing suitable locations and casting for ‘the Light’ – a story based on Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. 

Chosen for his unique adaptation of the story his script is based in 1950s America during the Red Scare era. The main character suddenly rejects his former oppressive ways, but realises the biggest struggle will be to convince everyone else he’s truly a changed man. 

Admitting to being a ‘bit geeky’ about attention to detail Simon used ‘The Message’ version of The Bible to base his story.  He says “I’ve written six drafts of the script and I’ve kept going back to the source text until about the third draft.  Since then it has been a matter of tweaking and fine tuning it for the film.  Now I’m really proud of it.” 

Entering the competition for the first time Simon never expected to get to the final, never expected to win and certainly never expected to be directing his own short film! 

Overseeing the production, Luke Walton, the project’s director says: ““It has been fantastic to see Simon growing into his project over the last six months. This is an exciting young filmmaker who is going to make his mark in Hollywood.”  

Speaking about the film itself he adds ’The Light’ is an ambitious short film but we have an incredibly talented crew who have been working exceptionally hard in preparation and I believe 1950s America will be appearing all over the Northwest this next week! “

Check out Simon Cookson's diary notes

Recorded whilst developing his pitch last year


  • After a few weeks' work, developing the story, I'm ready to plan it out as a pitch. I decide to go for relatively abstract visuals supported by voiceover.
  • The voiceover takes a few drafts, and trying it out with a stop-watch, it's running a little longer than two minutes, I prune and prune and get it down to just over a minute fifty.
  • Actor Daniel Street-Brown (whose work on the project will not be over by a long shot yet) has been approached to read the voiceover a few weeks' in advance, but it seems our schedules may be in conflict for it. A little panic, I can't think of anyone who could voice Merle better.
  • A sigh of relief as Dan is available to perform the voiceover. Accusations of me being a perfectionist are well formed - the two minute voiceover takes about four hours of rehearsing and recording before I'm totally happy.
  • Time well spent. I source the music I want from a jazz trio (members of which will also return to our story) and do a sound mic. It sounds pretty good.
  • I have a lot of 8mm footage I've been shooting around Manchester over the past couple of weeks, having been on a 50s tip since starting the research of McCarthyism and the US of the period. It's put together in the edit with the music and it's working well.
  • With the deadline imminent there's a lot of juggling to finish the pitch with other projects and my day job. A couple of very late nights ensue but it's worth it.
  • Forms filled in, pitch uploaded, pats on backs to everyone that I've collaborated with, especially my mum and dad, the first soundboard for my work a lot of the time. So I can relax, and if I get in the long-list I'll be happy enough - I imagine I'll be up against some pretty stiff competition.

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