This autumn, cinemagoers will delve into a Northampton never before rendered on the silver screen when Alan Moore’s genre-bending, dark fantasy film The Show hits theatres.
And the Chron was lucky enough to get a peek behind the scenes as the final shots were added to the Abington writer’s first ever feature film being shot entirely here in the town.
Moore has seen his comics V for Vendetta, From Hell and Watchmen adapted into box office hits at the hands of others – even though he has been scathing of all the adaptations.
But The Show has seen him and director Mitch Jenkins embrace film like never before having spent years shunning offers to write scripts for Hollywood.
And Northampton, its spirit, its ‘oddness’ and its brutal history, is at its very centre.
The Chron met Moore in the abandoned corridors of County Hall, which has acted as the base for The Show’s crew and cast since November.
Speaking in the same room once used by the county council to deliver budget meetings to the press, the writer, 65, said the film aimed to “lift the veil of anonymity” over Northampton.
“I have a sense that Northampton is in some ways a parallel world capital,” he said.
The film, incidentally, will see characters flick between Northampton and its parallel world alternative, Nighthampton.
“This is where both the internal wars were settled,” he continued, “where two kings were captured.
“There is a sense Northampton has been punished for that for centuries.”
He added: “This is about putting Northampton back on some sort of map.”
The movie, led by Musketeers and War and Peace star Tom Burke, centres around the exploits of man-of-mystery Fletcher Dennis and his mission to track down a stolen artefact in Northampton.
It follows on from a short series of films released by Moore and acclaimed photographer Jenkins, released in 2014, called Show Pieces.
That mini-series charted the lives of characters inhabiting the ‘underworld’ of Jimmy’s End Working Men’s Club in Nighthampton.
But Moore – who describes the film as sitting somewhere between a flatshare sitcom, a brutal British crime drama and a ‘caper’ – believes The Show could even be expanded into a television series in its own right.
“It is not something to run forever, but I think we could get a few seasons of very interesting drama out of this – of a kind no one else has seen,” he said.
“As long as I know how many seasons a potential series if going to run for, then I know what the last scene in the episode of the last season is going to be.
“That is how I would like to conclude this.”
With almost every scene from The Show shot on location in Northampton, the prospect of Moore and Jenkins’ labour of love bringing a legion of fans to the town is very real indeed.
Promotion shots for the film show protagonist Burke skulking in front of the Guildhall, while another shows the mist settling across Salcey Forest.
Exterior shots depict the general hospital, Moore says, and while the Chron met the writer and the cast, scenes were being filmed in the rain-soaked gardens of County Hall itself.
“These days there are a lot of places doing well based on the fantasies that are set in those places,” said Moore.
“I believe the Washington state town where Twin Peaks is set is doing very well.
“In Ireland, where Game of Thrones is filmed, that is doing well.”
And the cast, who have spent two months on location here in Northampton, have begun to get into the spirit of the town too.
Siobhan Hewlett, who plays journalist Faith in the film, said: “Northampton is quite a strange place in the best possible way – I mean that from a place of absolute love, because I love Northampton.
“It’s quite easy to get into the zone for Alan’s script just being here, because it is a weird, other-worldly place.”
“This is documentary realism,” chipped in Moore. “Although there is a surreal element.”
The film, due for release in autumn, is being funded to the tune of £3 million by the British Film Institute, the National Lottery and Lipsync, a relatively modest budget considering the hundreds of millions of pounds spent creating Hollywood blockbusters.
Local set designers and production crew have been drafted in to complete the project, which, Moore jokes, is held together by “smoke and knicker wire” – but has the look of a “$90 million film.”
Like his novel Jerusalem, the Abington writer is hoping his first feature film stands as a striking testimony to his beloved hometown – a ‘failed state’ that he says has been the first to collapse under austerity.
“I want to show that even in this collapsed mess that the imagination can make something rise out of this dreadful situation that might possibly alleviate it,” he said.
“If it doesn’t it will be a glorious representation of what this town and what it is.”