Fife is set to become a major force in the horror film industry with plans to transform a former church in Kirkcaldy into a dedicated film studio.
It will be transformed into the UK’s only studio for the production of horror and fantasy films, as well as a creative hub to encourage others to become involved.
The project is the brainchild of Dysart-based producer and director Lawrie Brewster and his partner Sarah Daly of Hex Media in Kirkcaldy.
And they are very keen to turn the studio into a true community venue where people can go along and learn about film-making and production and develop their skills.
A green-screen studio, sound recording facilities and special effects workshop will all be created at the historic “gothic revival” building, which will be revealed when the legal formalities have been completed.
And the £500,000 project, which is being led by production company Hex Media, will create up to 20 jobs, both through the studio and on the commercial side of the business.
Work is set to get underway on site within weeks with the initial phase expected to be completed by the summer.
Hex has declared that the new venture, which is expected to produce three films a year, will focus on “bold, original storytelling, and nurturing diverse voices in the genre.”
Hex Media founder Lawrie Brewster, whose previous acclaimed work includes Lord of Tears and The Unkindness of Ravens, said: “Hex Studios is inspired by the glory days of Hammer Horror.
“As a dedicated facility, it will be producing, distributing and raising money for films like an old-fashioned studio would have done in the 1940s and 1950s.
“It’s more than just a physical production space or a studio company, it’s a grass-roots movement that seeks to pursue a revolutionary approach to the art and business of film-making.
“It will be based on developing talent in Scotland, rather than being a vehicle for international companies to come in and leave again. It will put Scotland right at the heart of horror genre filmmaking in Britain.”
Sarah Daly, his partner in Hex Media, added: “We want to foster a resurgence in the great British tradition of horror film-making, as well as providing opportunities for aspiring writers, actors and film-makers in Scotland and all over the world.”
Roger Corman, a veteran American producer, whose films include Little Shop of Horrors, House of Usher and Not Of This Earth, is giving his support to the venture.
He said: “Hex Studios is an ambitious new project which aims to rekindle the spirit of classic horror cinema, and gives me hope for the future of original, independent film-making.”
Lawrie Brewster’s passion for intelligent horror and fantasy films has seen him produce three major feature films in the last four years – Lord of Tears, The Unkindness of Ravens and The Black Glove.
The jack-of-all-trades, who, in addition to his producing and directing skills, is also an accomplished technical and VFX wizard, has also produced a number of eclectic short films in his ten years as a film-maker, One of his best known works was creating the visual landscape for the two Morgan M. Morgansen films which played at Sundance and South By Southwest, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum.
Sarah is an Irish-born musician and screenwriter whose work has been performed worldwide by actors including Gary Oldman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum.
Lawrie’s first film, Lord of Tears, also known as The Owlman, was released in October 2013 at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival, where it won two awards.
The supernatural thriller follows a Scottish schoolteacher who sees visions of the Owl Man, a strange mythological creature from his childhood.
This was followed in 2016 by The Unkindness of Ravens starring Jamie Scott Gordon as a veteran who comes face to face with demonic ravens. The film had its world premiere on 27 August 2016 at the London FrightFest Film Festival, with horror website Bloody Disgusting highlighting it as “one of the top 10 must-see independent horror films of the year.”
The Black Gloves, released earlier this year, tells the story of a psychologist obsessed with the disappearance of his young patient, and sees the return of the owl man who plagues her nightmares.
Lawrie told the Press: “We are really excited about this next step and we hope to provide people in the community with an opportunity to get involved and help put Fife on the film-making map.”
Sarah added: “It is about developing a creative hub where people who are interested in all aspects of film-making can come and develop to take them to the next level.”