2010 ➤ Step up Martin Kemp – movie mogul

Martin Kemp,Jonathan Sothcott, Black and Blue Films,Expose

Kemp and Sothcott: director and producer with Hammer Horror in mind

❚ ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DOLLAR. Who’s this relaxed and expansive dude sitting in smart restaurant with his business partner talking about their upcoming horror movie? Yes, in the week that his band of 80s popsters Spandau Ballet wind up their year-long reunion tour with a posh send-off concert at Newmarket racecourse, bass player Martin Kemp presses the button marked Publicity for his next project.

Martin Kemp, The Glittering Prizes, TV

Kemp at 15: scene-stealing in The Glittering Prizes

At the ripe old age of 48 he’s now a writer and director of films, which might seem a logical next step after a lifetime of watching how it’s done. His long list of acting credits stretches back to that first child-star cameo in the coolest TV serial of 1976, The Glittering Prizes, which made an international star of Tom Conti, after which Kemp made his mark as those folk villains Reggie Kray in The Krays and Steve Owen in EastEnders.

Even while his pop career was being reanimated with Spandau, Kemp had formed a British company called Black and Blue Films in partnership with 30-year-old producer Jonathan Sothcott and actor Billy Murray, a familiar face from TV soaps. In a video interview with Kemp he says his directorial debut is a remake of a notorious 1976 video nasty called Exposé, given the new title of Stalker (click through for trailer). It’s an old dark house psycho-drama, with plenty of blood, if clips from the new version are any indication. “People start dying,” says Sothcott and Kemp adds: “All in one house. That’s a good premise for low-budget film.”

Expose, Black and Blue Films, Anna Brecon, Martin Kemp

Anna Brecon in Exposé: says it all

That was the cleverest lesson Kemp learned about screenplays, Sothcott maintains: “He wrote it low-budget! So we could shoot it fast and cheap, which so many writers in this country don’t do.”

For Kemp, the hardest challenge as a director was to keep the story rolling. “That’s what I learned on Exposé, pacing the story. That’s where I’ve seen lots of my friends fall down on their first feature, never on the acting or photography – it is telling the story.

“This is my 40th year in entertainment, so it’s nice to mark it with a something new. Every project throws up different problems that you have to solve – directing means you have to solve everybody else’s as well.”

Sothcott lays his own cards on the table: “The model I’m trying to rip off with Black and Blue is Hammer [the much-loved tongue-in-cheek horror studio of the 50s and 60s, which churned out gothic potboilers calculated to make audiences laugh as much as scream]. Next year I hope we’ll be making six crime-horror-comedy movies that will sell all round the world – stuff that isn’t just Brit-centric. Stuff that’s fun.”

Despite the chaotic economic climate, Kemp maintains that their company is thriving. “We’ve had a funny couple of years. All around us are production companies closing down, not able to get money, and we’ve had possibly the best two years ever. We’ve got Just For the Record [see trailer below, a Spinal Tap-type spoof, but of the film industry: “This wouldn’t have happened on Grange Hill”] and we’re in talks about another couple of films. Exposé was so much fun, I can’t wait to do my next.”

Watch out also for Dead Cert, a fast-moving vampire frightener starring cockney Craig Fairbrass: “Kill ’em, that’s the only thing we can do.”

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