Chris Jupp’s main line of work may be cutting hair, but he was always the one at weddings or christenings that would film everything – and send DVDs to everyone afterwards.
Then one day last year, while he was snipping away, a customer mentioned that he was planning to turn the old Regal Palace nightclub in North End, Portsmouth into a care home.
Boarded up and full of dust and cobwebs, it was an ideal film set – and Chris was inspired to make a horror movie there.
Still equipped with the old DJ booths and props such as giant tea cups and laughing clowns, the space was a perfect setting for what Chris had in mind.
Now he’s just finished editing a feature-length film shot there called All The Fear Of The Fair.
Chris, who lives in Cosham, says: ‘I’d never seen anything like it. It was incredible.
‘There were huge tea pots from where they’d had an Alice In Wonderland theme bar.
‘It still had all the original features. I thought ‘‘I’m going to make a film in here’’ and the man basically said “you’d better hurry up because we’re going to pull it down.”’
As reported in The News on Friday, the old nightclub, which has been closed for 14 years, now has planning permission to become a care home.
By the time Chris had secured the place as his film set, he only had a matter of weeks to film while the builders got to work.
He had to call in some help in the form of technical crew and actors and he had to do it fast.
That’s when he spoke to 24-year-old James Jones.
He says: ‘I used to cut his dad’s hair so I remember when he was born. He told me James was getting into sound and lighting and that he would love the experience to be involved.
‘So I contacted him and he did some work on Beast (a previous full-length feature film Chris made) with a little bit of lighting.
‘Then I went on Facebook, which has been a great tool for getting people involved, and he said ‘what about me being a producer as well?’’
Chris says: ‘I’m very artistic and he’s very technical so it’s worked well.’
Thanks to many years in hairdressing, Chris knew plenty of people who wanted to be involved with the project, even though they had full-time jobs.
He explains: ‘I started to write a story and it evolved into a script. There were all these people learning their lines and we had one meeting and that was it.
‘We had to be very, very quick. We only had about five or six full filming days on Sundays, and we’ve managed to make a one hour 20-minute feature film!’
Involved in the production of All The Fear Of The Fair were people from all different backgrounds.
Special effects and make-up girls Ellie Farrell and Charlie Enfield are still studying at South Downs college. Aimee Conway also helped out a little – she was one of the make-up advisers for Kate Middleton for the royal wedding last year and has worked on Plan B videos.
Chris and James even had their own composer involved. Sander De Vries, a graduate of the University of Southampton, composed an original soundtrack for the film.
Chris says: ‘The lead actor runs a fish and chip shop in Eastney and the lead actress works for the Mayflower theatre in Southampton.
‘The builders in the film are real builders, so it’s got an amazing authenticity.
‘I told them there was too much swearing and they were like “well, have you ever been on a building site?”’
Chris says he’s enjoyed the experience of making his second feature film.
He explains: ‘For the first one, I had a little bet with my friend about making a film because he said it’s harder than you think. So I made a feature-length film for about 200 quid.
‘I knew when the opportunity came up for this film I’d have to make another one, and I learned from all the mistakes I made the last time round.’
The story centres on an old disused fairground, which was closed after some children died in an horrific accident.
Chris adds: ‘The owner decides to build a youth club, filling it up with the memorabilia.
‘He’s not very well so he hands it over a new owner if he promises to turn it into a youth club, but he decides to turn it into a lapdancing club instead.
‘One of the walls is knocked down and they see all the old funfair memorabilia. Then the doors all lock and everyone is trapped.’
With such a short time to do the filming, it wasn’t an easy task. But Chris says everything came together perfectly.
He says: ‘It really was a lot of hard work.
‘We got up at 5am to start filming and we would finish at 11pm and everyone worked for nothing.
‘If it makes money they will get some, but they all have full-time jobs anyway.’
He adds: ‘You know when sometimes all the stars are aligned? Everything just worked.
‘In one of the scenes there was a tunnel and we thought ‘‘well we can’t do that because we can’t build one’’.
‘Then the builders smashed through part of the building and found a real tunnel!’
Chris and James are now sending out the film to agents in the hope that it can be released on DVD.
Although they haven’t settled on a venue for the premiere of their new film yet, Chris Jupp and James Jones do know they’re going to give all the proceeds to limb deficiency charity REACH.
James, who lives in Fareham, was born without any thumbs and had to undergo surgery when he was younger in order for him to be able to do the kinds of things everyone else takes for granted.
He had known Chris for six or seven years and helped out with the technical side of his last film, so wanted to be involved with the latest project.
James says: ‘I do as much as I can for REACH because I want to give something back. The charity helped me when I was a lot younger.
‘They supported my family and were just there in general for us. They helped quite a lot.’
James adds: ‘The amount of support they give and the enthusiasm of the whole charity has given me a lot of motivation to want to help others.
‘We’ve agreed that any money from the film premiere and a percentage of the final distribution is going to go to REACH.’
For more information about REACH, go to reach.org.uk