Thursday 4 March 2010

James Price on Shell Shock: Leinthall Starkes on big screen tonight

Tonight at 6.15pm, the only chance to see Shell Shock, shot in Tokyo, London and Leinthall Starkes, North Herefordshire, at Borderlines. It's the debut feature of James Price, a 33-year-old director with roots in the Marches farming community. James remembers his art lessons with Jane Wells in Leintwardine, his two years at Art College in Hereford and his formative cinema experiences, "I'm very pleased to be showing my first film at Borderlines in Hereford. Some of my earliest memories of cinema are of going to see Octopussy at the Hereford Odeon and The Return of the Jedi at the Regal in Tenbury."

The subject of Shell Shock is highly topical: a young veteran of an unknown war suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that renders him unable to cope with everyday life and normal relationships. “My film is about the effects war can have on anyone,” says James, “I want it to make people stop and think about what’s going on. And I want them to ask questions.” 
 “We forget that war has got more psychological today. You no longer know who the enemy is. They’re not in uniform. They attack and then melt away. You no longer know who is going to shoot you.” 

As the debate over the Iraq War rumbles on, the director refuses to commit publicly to one side or the other. “My film is apolitical. I do have a view on the Iraq War and Afghanistan, but it’s not for me to agree or disagree with the war in Iraq. It’s too late to say whether Tony Blair was right or wrong (to send the troops in). It’s happened. And people are losing limbs, seeing their friends die.”

“It’s very difficult for someone who has not been involved in military conflict, who’s not been in a war situation, to comprehend what’s going on. And OK, it’s a tiny percentage of soldiers who suffer from stress disorders. But the consequences can be devastating.”

James’ advisors included a psychologist who had worked with the Territorial Army and a former paratrooper, a guy, he says, “who could not sleep at night.” He based his film on the experiences of servicemen involved in conflicts in Northern Ireland and Bosnia. 

Working on a tiny budget (Shell Shock cost £18,000, self-financed from working as an Art Director on films as diverse as Bullet Boy, Grow Your Own and Miss Austen Regrets) James, who comes from an agricultural background (his father Robert Price farmed Barn Farm at Leinthall Starkes), used his uncle’s farm for location shots of the battle zone. 
 The Marches landscape, bleak and rugged in March when filming took place, was ideal. “I simply wanted to portray the experience that could be any soldier’s, in any country, in any conflict, in any place in history. It’s important for us, for the public, to comprehend what war is like, and what the consequences are for what soldiers have seen and done in the theatre of war. I want them to ask  questions - because I don’t have the answers.”

The screening at Borderlines is backed by The Producers’ Forum whose CEO, Shrewsbury-based, BAFTA-winning producer, Natasha Carlish will conduct a Q&A with James.

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