1988: A SIX WEEK COLLEGE PROJECT
I begin the project aged 21 at the art college in Middlesbrough. The brief is to put together just a storyboard for a 3-minute historical film in 6 weeks. Curious about the mine ruins I explored on Eston hills as a kid, I discover that the mine powered Teesside’s explosive growth to iron-making capital of the world. I am astounded that this is not common knowledge even locally. I track down the last of the iron-miners which is a complete revelation. I have to make a proper documentary of this before they are gone, because TV would never do it and because Teesside people should know the story. Production extends beyond 6 weeks and beyond college…
1989: CENTURY (Mk.I) LAUNCHED
Post-college and on the ‘pancrack’ (old slang for dole!) progress is slow…a funding bid to Northern Arts is rejected but I persevere and gain support from Siren Films in Middlesbrough and Langbaurgh Council. With £1,500 raised, I complete ‘A Century in Stone’ (Mk. I / 30 mins). It is shown in pubs and clubs around the Eston area and then shown daily at Kirkleatham Museum for several years. It is well received and sells some 900 copies on video but the film itself fell far short of what I wanted…
1999: CENTURY (Mk.II) IN PRODUCTION
After ten years of film-making, I return to my first project to make the film that I always wanted to make: a big feature-length production with re-enactments. The recent advent of digital technology enables broadcast picture quality at a fraction of the cost but big funds are still needed to match big plans…
2002: MAJOR FUNDING AWARD
After two and a half years of erratic production, I am awarded a £75,000 fellowship award from Lord Puttnam and the National Endowment For Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). The sky is now the limit and I can realise the vision with bells on!
2004: CENTURY (Mk.II) LAUNCHED
After 4 and a half years in the making, the two-hour ‘Century’ Mk. II is premiered to 300 guests at Eston Institute. It then packs thousands into workmen’s clubs, community centres and village halls across Cleveland. After 40 shows and the film box office record smashed at Stockton ARC, it was time to take on Hollywood… (MORE)
SEPT 2004: MAKING HISTORY
The film becomes the first ever Teesside-made film to open at a multiplex. In its first week at Middlesbrough’s UGC (now Cineworld) it outsells the Hollywood competition on all other screens. It runs for 18 days and is shown to an audience of 2,845. The story makes The Guardian and BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’ (MORE)
XMAS 2004: BIG STORE BESTSELLER
Frantic demand sees in-store signing sessions, a temporary shop in the Cleveland Centre and sales exceeding Harry Potter at WHSmith Middlesbrough and Asda South Bank. 6,000 copies sell in 4 weeks…
2005: CINEMAS ACROSS AUSTRALIA
The ultimate gig – a four day run at Dendy Cinema in the shadow of the Teesside-made Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is followed by a coast-to-coast tour opening in Newcastle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth…
Screenings in local schools and history hikes up Eston hills, kindle a great love in kids for their history and landscape; and the work pours out of them. (MORE)
2006: THE STORY BECOMES KNOWN
After two years of screenings, relentless media and 10,000 copies sold, my mission to make the story common knowledge pays off. The Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum enjoys its best ever year. References to industrial history and ironstone are all over the local media. This sea change was epitomised by the late radio commentator Alistair Brownlee. In his epic outburst as Boro qualified for the UEFA Cup Final in 2006, he included “mined out of the Eston hills”. Now immortalized on a wall near the stadium and rightly so! RIP Alistair
2010: NATIONAL EXPOSURE
The film is included in a showcase of all time best films from the North East at the British Film Institute’s Mediatheque on London’s South Bank. It is also heavily featured in Redcar – Made of Steel, a BBC Radio4 doco about the demise of the steel industry. The voices of Eston miners are broadcast to the nation for the first time ever!
2022: STILL TO COME...
After 18 years and 15,000 sales, the film is still reaching new people and new generations in schools across the area. All being well, an accompanying book will mark the 20th anniversary of the film in 2024 so watch this space!
A CENTURY IN STONE
The Teesside DVD Bestseller
ALL TEXT & PICS COPYRIGHT OF
CRAIG HORNBY / PANCRACK PICTURES 2022