Stevenage film director’s shot at success

A FILM director who grew up in Comet country dreaming of success in the industry will see his latest work hit the silver screen this week.

Stevenage born Matthew Hope has spent the last three years working on hard-hitting movie The Veteran which will be released in cinemas nationwide tomorrow (Friday).

The 35-year-old, who moved to Little Wymondley as a teenager where he lived until moving to London last year, wrote and directed the film which stars BAFTA nominee Toby Kebbell as the lead (Prince of Persia, Control, RocknRolla) and BAFTA winner Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity, X-Men 2).

The former Barclay student’s film tells the story of a young soldier (Kebbell) returning from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Distress Disorder and how he becomes embroiled in a London underworld of terrorism and drugs.

The film, which follows The Vanguard, written and directed by Mr Hope for release in 2008, also stars hip-hop artist Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas, Adi Bielski, Tony Curran and Tom Brooke.

Speaking to The Comet, Mr Hope said: “I was about eight when I knew I wanted to be in the film business and by 14 I knew I wanted to direct,” he said.

“I wrote a couple of features in my early 20s but it really kicked off five years ago. Now to have a film in the cinema is a massive achievement.

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“I co-wrote it with a friend of mine and we started writing it in November 2008. It was January 2010 when we got the money together so it was a lengthy process.

“I showed it to my friends in a private screening recently but it’s quite funny as I’ve got some friends who couldn’t make it who’ve said they’re going to see it (in Stevenage) on Friday.”

Asked what to look out for in The Veteran, the 35-year-old said: “One thing we did try to do was to have a proper gun battle at the end. My co-writer was in the military for 24 years so between him and myself we wanted to do something that stood out from the crowd as it’s not often done in British films. It’s something I’m very proud of.”

On the casting of Toby Kebbell and Brian Cox, Mr Hope added: “I was very happy. I wanted Toby Kebbell from the beginning after seeing him in Dead Man’s Shoes and Control. We sent him the script and he said he wanted to do it - it was just like that.

“With Brian and the number of films he’s been in I was thinking - ‘I’m directing Brian Cox here’. But he does his thing and goes home and that’s it. We learnt a lot from the cast and my job was really to support them.”