Markham – locked and ready for release

As well as being a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years, it now appears that I’m in the feature motion picture business, as my debut as a director – the horror film Markham is now locked, finished and set for release at the end of August.  It’s been quite a journey.

Markham is an experimental, rubber reality horror feature that was shot for a zero budget, and used improvisation in nearly every scene.

As well as being the director, and DOP, I also act in the film under the name Thomas Cody, I did this because of the way the film was shot, and the lack of budget.  It meant that the actor ‘Thomas’ was always available when Matthew Cooper the director was… It helps with scheduling!

As an actor, I try to do as little as possible and be as naturalistic as I can. I’ve been around and worked with some great actors in my career as a script writer for hire, so I picked up a few things from people like Ewan McGregor, Brian Bovell, Dean Smith, Tom Gibbons and writing for some soap actors like Dominic Brunt (in Emmerdale, he’s an amazing actor and very underrated) has taught me the odd thing about acting and performance.   So, I can get by as actor, but what people don’t recognise is that acting can be, physically and mentally exhausting.

So, the strain of acting, coupled with being THE DIRECTOR of the film is double whammy.  I also, don’t particularly enjoy being in front of the camera, which I was a lot in Markham.  I like to be behind the lens to check the shots (and often make last minute adjustments).  And again, to save money I also acted as the director of photography (DOP) so that’s three roles I was often doing in each shot. All three require terrific concentration.  It was miles tougher than I expected or even considered.

The film, so far has had good feedback and a warm response, especially from fans of the horror genre.  My performance even got a few mentions, but gladly I’m dwarfed by the pro actors we used such as Ashe Russell, Tony Coughlan, Dan Martin and Gareth Parry.  All these guys knew what they were doing (thank god).

I won’t be in a rush to act again, but it’s always useful to know that while I’m not comfortable in front of the camera, I can serve up some prime ham if needed.  

As well as being a freelance film director for hire, Matthew has also enjoyed a long career as a script writer for hire he’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

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