Julie Hesmondhalgh takes part in First Take’s Reel Recovery Project

JULIE HESMONDHALGH, best known for her portrayal of Hayley from Coronation Street, and recently BAFTA nominated for her performance in Broadchurch, is supporting First Take, Liverpool’s local award-winning filmmaking organisation that specialises in working with diverse communities.   

First Take’s successful bid to the Big Lottery Reaching Communities along with their continued support from Culture Liverpool has allowed the organisation to run its ‘Reel Recovery’ project, which is for people in the recovery community.  The project teaches Screenwriting, Filmmaking and Acting for Camera.  Participants can specialise in particular filmmaking roles such as Camera, Sound, Editing, Production Management and even composing the musical score.  After training, participants go on to work as part of a crew alongside First Take and make actual films using the film scripts that have been written during the Screenwriting course. 

On Wednesday 18th April the well-known actress, who has a cameo role in the first film to be produced, joined First Take and the crew for a day’s filming in Liverpool, Julie said: “What a pleasure and a privilege to work with the wonderful First Take making the first of a series of films by people in the recovery community. Quite apart from having a lovely time and being made so warmly welcome, I was bowled over by the skill and professionalism of the newly trained crew, who were all taking their roles very seriously. It felt exactly like being on a professional set. Talking with them afterwards, it was clear that working with First Take had been a life changing experience for many of them, which had given them an enormous sense of community and self worth.” 

This first film ‘A Step Too Far’, written by Tess Leigh- Phillips, is a psychological thriller about a recovering alcoholic who has reached her step 9 and wants to make amends, but it doesn’t go quite to plan. It is a very moving and dramatic piece.  Tess explained what the project means to her: “I’m so grateful to First Take for giving me this wonderful opportunity. It’s been an absolute joy to work with such talented and enthusiastic people. First Take is an invaluable part of my recovery and many other peoples’ allowing us to achieve things we have always wanted to.  I’m looking forward to writing more and taking part in more projects in the future.”

Julie wasn’t the only one to come forward to offer the project support. L3 Living also stepped up to the mark and let First Take use one of their apartments as the main location for the film.

Paula Whittaker, Director at L3 Living, said: “It was a real honour to have the cast and crew from First Take filming their latest production in our Merchants Quarters luxury apartments. We love placing ourselves at the heart of Liverpool’s wider community and being based in one of the UK’s most filmed locations outside London, we are extremely supportive of the film industry in the city. First Take’s work helping people in the recovery community take their first steps into the film industry is absolutely fantastic and we look forward to seeing the finished series and the careers that blossom from it.”

The project, started in August last year, is due to run until August 2019 and there will be many more opportunities for people to get involved.  Lynne Harwood, Director at First Take explains: “The first lot of courses and this first film has been a great success and we intend to build on that. This is such an exciting project, we are making a series of short films and in the third year we will be making a feature film.  It is about offering people in abstinent recovery the possibility of a different future, giving them the skills, the confidence and the opportunity to make films. We want to hear from anyone in abstinent recovery who wants to get involved.” 

So you never know it could be your script being produced next, or you could be acting in a film or working as one of the crew.  If you are in abstinent recovery and want to enrol to be part of the project just call Lynne or Jane at First Take on 0151 708 5767 or email lynne@firsttake.org.uk