Norwich Film Festival recently caught up with ambitious student Luke Penning, who runs East Anglian based production company Village Green Pictures, to find out how he started the company and the challenges he’s faced over the last 2 years.
NFF – Who are Village Green Pictures?
Luke – We’re a production company based in Ipswich, Suffolk; we do a range of photographic and media related content. We can do photography for businesses or promotional events, and we also can film: weddings, music videos, documentaries, adverts and short films.
How did you start your company and get it off the ground?
In 2014, I decided to produce my own production company because it was a more effective way for me to market myself as a brand. Whenever you start a company or whenever you start something new; it is always difficult. It’s always a challenge since you never really know what to expect. When VGP started, for me, it was about learning what we were and what we were doing. Once our cinematography style was found, it became much easier and ideas began to flow better.
What advice would you give to other filmmakers?
I would say it is important to get involved with social media; it is one of the main marketing aspects in order to get information out there and get people involved. Also, get involved with the local media in your area, such as radio, television or newspapers. A few years ago, Village Green Pictures was featured in a newspaper and this generated an audience for us.
What challenges did you face?
One of the main issues was trying to choose an original, interesting and eye-catching name for our company. When you create a logo, company or brand, you are creating something that is personal to you. I overcame this problem and produced the company’s name, Village Green Pictures, which is very personal to me.
Are your ideas personal to you or have you adapted ideas from other films you have seen?
In terms of the ideas, I like to have a bit of both. For example, my recent film “An Act of Courage”, was based on a story that I could relate to, as I had been mugged like the main character, Betty. I wanted to channel my emotion from this experience into the production and I think that I did that effectively through the use of the fictional characters and friends, Betty and Derek.
How has your crew expanded over the last two years?
Firstly, it started with just me, doing the editing, publishing and cinematography all at the same time. That was enjoyable, but I found it stressful with balancing university work and running my company at the same time.
What other roles have you got people involved in?
At the moment, I am the founder and cinematographer and the producer is Harriet Rackham, a highly organised person. Troy Whymark also has an essential role, as creative coordinator and actor, starring in the “Followed” series. Troy is very creative and always develops good ideas. Two other important volunteers include Vicki Walsh and Amy Turlington. Vicki Walsh has been our behind the scenes photographer at our recent film shoots and she has a superb eye for detail. Amy has been our temporary sound recordist and also was an amazing runner for both the cast and crew.
What projects are you looking forward to releasing soon?
I have currently three projects that I am looking forward to releasing. The main project is “The Kiss of Death”, which is a dark and modern film noir and also features several twists and turns throughout the film. The other project is “Joe’s Pirate Adventure”, which is a new and interesting film for me as I have never produced a children’s film before. I enjoy producing and working on both of these projects. Over the summer holidays I am working on two productions: a wedding and a music video. I am looking forward to producing these for all of you to see soon!
Well in the next five years, I hope we’re multi-millionaires! I’ll be serious now, haha. Well, like anything really, it’s about steady progress and even if we hit bumps in the road, we will overcome them together. I hope to be working on some more ambitious projects, in order to expand the company and maybe branch the company to other towns such as Colchester and London. However, at this moment in time, I am focused on staying in Ipswich as it is where I live and where I study. In my opinion, I would like us to attend more business events as I think it is very important to meet and network with other like-minded people.
How can people get in contact with you?
Interview completed by Harriet Rackham on behalf of Norwich Film Festival.