St Annes actor Craig Kelly on how shooting in Blackpool was a real treat as movie Trick or Treat is released
Starring, producing, casting and assisting in the writing of an award winning feature film has all been a bit of a dream for Lancashire actor Craig Kelly.
Filming at some iconic locations at 'home' on the Fylde was an added treat.
St Annes born actor Craig Kelly describes the aptly named Trick or Treat as 'his baby', a pride and a joy which will be released on DVD on June 1 and available online to stream.
Ironically it is babies, indeed fatherhood and first time parenting that kicks off this rollercoaster ride of a movie, set in Blackpool on Halloween night in a narrative that intertwines identity, gangsters, families and male depression.
If it all sounds a bit surreal that's because it is.
But it is powerful, purposeful and richly entertaining. The project was born out of an idea and ambition of Craig's good friend and his brother in law, former stockbroker and writer Geraint Anderson.
Trick or Treat, which was given a special preview in cinemas last October, encases a perfect storm of the pressures and expectations of life when balancing, careers, ambitions, family and accepting change, particularly for those aged in their 30s and 40s.
Craig, known for his work in Channel 4's Queer as Folk and Coronation Street says: "It really has been a passion for both of us very much our baby from start to finish.
"As privileged a career as I've had this has to be the greatest work I've ever been involved with.
"I can honestly say that -what's more I got to work in my hometown which really does have a place in my heart and working with my brother Dean on a film set in Blackpool. That was a beautiful experience.
"Everything just came together in the most perfect sequence from the subject matter to Geraint's script, the locations, the fantastic cast who just knocked it out of the park.
"We're so proud of it and the reaction so far, now the release and the chance to put it out to audiences in the United States. It's incredible but really we just want people to see it, get behind it, enjoy it and be entertained, which is why it took the course into that black, dark humour and not just a classic thriller."
Make no mistake Geraint and Craig are not making light of male suicide and depression, far from it.
Geraint was keen to put spotlight on mental health and male depression after discussions with male contemporaries and after a friend had taken his own life.
Craig adds:"I felt very fortunate as an actor and in my job to be present, active hands on dad, especially second time round but parenthood hits you like a ton of bricks..
"No one can prepare you for it, roles have changed in the modern day, it's evolved so much since fathers of the 70s, 80s even 90s, quite rightly for the better.
"It's a huge shock and an immense pressure, I didn't sleep for two years and then expected to function and continue in the life you had before. It's the greatest, most rewarding thing but it's hard and typically men don't talk about it.
"But there are more men now taking their first venture into fatherhood in their 40s like Geraint and I - well we felt there was a story to tell.
"And that's what this is wrapped up in with love at the heart of it. This is a guy with everything he could want but considering taking his own life - he's very depressed.
"The audience go on this journey with Greg quite literally over the course of the night, there are so many twists and turns as he's trying to make sense of himself and what it is he's going through. Without wanting to give anything away there are lots of little signs - some great lines and moments where you go 'is this real or not?'
"It is very much a rollercoaster ride with so many turns."
Trick or Treat was Geraint's debut in screenwriting and is already award-winning title after being rewarded with prizes at the 2019 Marbella Film Festival for best film, best actress for Frances Barber as gang boss Miss Ferguson and best supporting actor for Kris Marshall.
The tagline for the film is 'middleage can be murder' which gives a little hint at what can be expected or rather unexpected as events unfold in the unseen dark underbelly of the resort.
Craig plays lead 'Greg Kielty, who is meant to be 'celebrating' a milestone birthday ' when his real life sibling Dean Lennox Kelly, turns up on the doorstep as hapless brother 'Dan' having run into some bother with the local mobsters. Chaos of course ensues.
The brothers appeared on screen for the series Collision but Craig adds he felt blessed to be able to work together on the project, especially on home soil.
The family grew up in St Annes with Craig attending Ansdell High School, later becoming Lytham St Annes High School. His parents still live in the Fylde.
He adds:"My daughter also appears in the film, my mum and dad, who still live close came down on the set. It was something I feel very blessed about being able to make, star and produce a film in your hometown. There is something about the seaside.
"There was one night at two in the morning, shooting on the pier - we were cold, so cold," he laughs, "But making this was emotional and beautiful - there was a magic to it you couldn't get anywhere else."
Craig wasn't just fortunate enough to work alongside his brother but also able to call in great friends and industry greats including Frances Barber, Kris Marshall, Jason Flemyng, Maimie McCoy, Shaun Parkes and Hugo Speer.
"I worked alongside the casting director and had some ideas luckily he agreed but we had a strict budget - the thing is if you have a good script actors will do it and they will deliver. That's exactly what happened.
"I spoke to Jason about it recently and he summed up what a joy it was to be a part of - the right place, time and project and good people. I'm so proud because they all knocked it out of the park and the result is a very good film. You can't ask for more than that."
"Working together was an absolute blast."
The script cleverly enriches some dark northern humour in a crime thriller, which Geraint says his wife described perfectly as a 'Trippy northern Lost Stock.’
The initial plan was to reserve the release for later this year but with the change to life amidst the pandemic,the importance of mental health is ever more prevalent.
Craig adds: "Lockdown has changed everything. In that sense this was something that is important right now, people are going through it., some pushed to a limit. No doubt times are hard.
"Likewise I've never been more grateful for my family, opportunity to work, be creative. I truly believe this will change something in us all and we learn some lessons but I hope for those who have struggled, are in a black hole - they find some support and live happy lives.
"I am someone who can have open discussions and feel okay having that conversation but so many aren't and it is this that Geraint was keen to tap into.
Craig says: "Hopefully that's what people will relate to when they watch Trick or Treat it brings to the fore the pressing issue of male mental health but at the same time hopefully people will enjoy a great film."
For more on the film visit http://www.trickortreatthemovie.com/Trick or Treat is released June 1 and is available to rent or buy on all digital platforms (including Amazon, Sky Store and Virgin Media)
You can order the film by visiting` https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trick-Treat-Craig-Kelly/dp/B0842J7R5L/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=trick+or+treat+film&qid=1590995415&sr=8-4