Stockport film maker Aurora Fearnley looks forward to a bright future
PUBLISHED: 00:05 19 June 2014
Stockport film maker is hoping for more golden moments on the silver screen, writes Paul Mackenzie
The culture section of Stockport’s hall of fame is already a pretty crowded place – writer Christopher Isherwood is in there along with broadcaster Joan Bakewell, playwright Simon Stephens, actors Dame Wendy Hiller and Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, television presenters Judith Chalmers and David Dickinson, newsreader Katie Derham and comedian Mike Yarwood. And young film maker Aurora Fearnley is hoping she can add her name to that illustrious list.
Earlier this year, Aurora, aged 32, became the first woman to win The Pitch, an international film competition with the first prize of a £25,000 production budget. Having been a runner-up three times previously, she impressed five industry judges with her short sci-fi film idea, Pulsar and said: ‘I’m grateful I don’t have to come back for a fifth year. Every year I know I’ve been better at pitching and I’ve picked up tools and techniques each time to improve. I know it’s an ambitious idea and I know I’ve set myself a challenge but I’m really excited.’
She describes herself as a celluloid romanticist and although the projects she has worked on so far have been low budget, she points to Danny Boyle, from Radcliffe on the other side of Manchester, as an example of a local film maker who has made it to the top.
Aurora has produced a number of music videos, commercials and short films – including some that have picked up awards – but a biopic of her own life would make interesting viewing.
A keen member of amateur dramatic groups around Romiley where she spent her childhood, the former William Hulme’s Grammar pupil spent much of her teenage years confined to bed with ME before being turned down for drama school on the grounds that she had too little life experience.
She aimed to put that right by spending time travelling around India and the Middle East before returning to England and enrolling at the Northern Film School in Leeds where she graduated as a director and editor, with a first.
‘I was always interested in story telling,’ she said. ‘When I was cocooned and completely bed-ridden films and stories were one of my only forms of connection. I also wrote plays and I knew I wanted to be involved in some form of story telling. I’ve always been ambitious too. When I was just a little thing I thought I would be on stage in the West End.
‘I had a lost adolescence and I would like to make a film about chronic fatigue but I’m not sure the world’s ready to discuss it. There is still a stigma about it. Hopefully there will be a time for it but at the moment I’m quite nervous about putting anything like that out there because I think I’d have to become some kind of spokesperson and I don’t think I’m the right person to do that.’
She returned to Manchester in 2011 and although she now lives in south London with her fiancé, a graphic illustrator, Aurora retains a strong affinity with the area and her film company is called Little Northern Light. She is currently trying to raise funds for two feature film projects – one a sci-fi movie, the other a psychological horror film – and is planning to set one of them in Manchester.
‘There’s an old saying that it takes ten years to be an overnight success,’ she said. ‘This is my tenth year and although there’s still a long way to go, I think I am getting somewhere and starting to get a reputation.
‘Success means different things to different people and I do have really big dreams and goals but at the same time if I can just make a living out of making films, I’ll be pleased.’