Directing my first feature – Markham (2019)

Markham directed by Matthew Cooper
Markham directed by Matthew Cooper

As a UK script consultant I’m usually nice and warm in the house, sitting behind my PC or laptop.  Yesterday, on what was the coldest day of the year (by fucking far…) I was in the ice cold North Sea, wearing waders near the village of Staithes in North Yorkshire.

This was the last day of location work on a five day shoot – (I’ve got another five/ten days to work on interiors and in a green screen/chroma key studio) on what will be my feature film debut – with the working title of Markham.

I was originally set to shoot Markham in 2015, but due to circumstances at the time I pulled it from production. I’m glad I did, developments in tech, even from a few years ago have made this shoot a lot easier and a lot cheaper.

I’ve been directing on and off since I was a teenager (starting with Super 8mm cine cameras) so I’m kind of okay being behind the camera, but five days full time work in a row reminds me of what an actual hard job directing is. Not only that, I’m co-producing as well.

The footage so far looks fab – I got some of the stuff I wanted, some things I didn’t get, I often found new and surprising things on location that I’m hoping to work into the story. Yesterday, I was compromised so much by the cold weather and harsh location that we had to work really creatively so that the whole day wasn’t a waste (I’m hoping I don’t have to dig out the waders any time soon).

Over the next few months we’ll shoot as the studio space and becomes available. During this downtime, I’ll be supervising the animation and special effects sequences as well as build an ‘assemble’ edit of the footage we have so far.  I’ll also be working with the composer on the score.

While all this is fun, it’s also a lot of hard work, expensive and very very tiring.

I’m expecting the film to be released online in mid 2019 (I’m aiming for Amazon Prime but if not, I’ll release it on Vimeo and YouTube – possibly for free). I guess this is officially my directional debut – when it comes out I’ll be 45 years old.

The film is a horror – inspired by HP Lovecraft.

There’s also the online marketing campaign to plan – as well as a full PR campaign. I somehow spent at least six of the past ten years working in online marketing, PR, SEO and social media marketing. It was never actually a calling (I did it to pay the bills) but now it’s suddenly a very useful tool to have.

For now, for the rest of today at least. I’m going to get some rest…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour

His directorial debut Markham will be released in 2019.