New short film released made by community affected by Wigan drama school closure

A new short film has been released, made by the community affected by the shock closure of a Wigan drama school.

Last Monday (4 April), the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) announced its sudden closure, which left students, staff and alumni reeling. Citing that it was no longer “financially viable”. The school closed both of its campuses in Wigan and Wandsworth, London and ceased all teaching and activities.

And now an ex-teacher at ALRA, Lewis Fernandez, has released his short film, Glass Houses which features actors from the drama school.

Lewis Fernandez, 28, from Didsbury, was made redundant from his job delivering film workshops for ALRA students. He said he was “worried” about releasing his film from him just a few days after the closure of ALRA.

READ MORE: Students and teachers wake up to the news their school will close for good

He told the MEN: “I was shocked when I found out that ALRA closed, and I was a bit worried about bringing the film out now because the release date had been planned for a while. But I’m cracking on and looking for work And, actually, now is a good time to showcase the work of ALRA students.

Glass Houses will exist as a memory because we all used to go to ALRA and the way we’ve come together to make this work.r “Hopefully, it’s a positive mark. Years down the line, we are going to be known as ‘the school that closed’, but this film is going to exist as a stamp that says ‘we are all students that went to that school and here’s some work we’ve done together .’ It’s kind of like a legacy of the school.”

Lewis Fernandez has released a new short film which was filmed in Didsbury and Wigan

Written and directed by Lewis, Glass Houses follows protagonist Liam (played by Coronation Street’s Lamin Touray) who is trying to do the right thing, but his habit to be impulsive seems to take over his reason.

The majority of the film was filmed in Didsbury and one scene in Wigan. Lewis was delighted to discover how helpful the local community was with recommending filming locations.

Lewis continued: “I asked a lot of questions on a Didsbury Facebook group about good places to film, and the everybody wanted to help. The managers at Khandoker Indian Restaurant said I could film in their bathroom, and I also got to film in Kings Amusements inWigan.

“A man watching us film in Didsbury let us get a shot from inside his flat through his window. It’s amazing as a starting-out filmmaker, usually, you have to pay to film in places like that. “People saw that we didn’ t have a huge budget, so they really came together to help me out. The support was overwhelming.

“I have not been living in Manchester very long, so i t’s lovely and affirming that I am in a nice place. You always hear that people from the North are very nice and friendly.”

An image of the poster for the film Glass Houses
A poster for the film Glass Houses

Additionally, Lewis shared how important Greater Manchester was for the setting of the film.

The director and editor, who also makes a cameo in the film, added: ” I think it will be fun for people to watch because they will probably recognize streets we filmed on. We filmed on the main road that leads from Burnage to Didsbury.

“I think the spots I picked are quite urban and they had the right feel for the film. The character of Liam is someone that’s in all of us.”

A photo of ALRA North campus in Wigan.
ALRA North campus in Wigan. The school announced its closure last week (Monday 4 April), which left students, staff and the drama industry reeling

Finally, Lewis said that working with North West based talent was a highlight for him.

He added: “I had a really great cast and crew. ALRA students are always keen to be involved, so it was a comfortable experience for me to work with familiar people.

“Lamin took to the role like a duck to water. I would love to work with him again.

“Yes seeing the volume of people in the North West: actors, camera operators, directors, doing their thing, it’s fantastic. T here’s a real wealth of talent in Manchester and it’s been very clear for me to see.

I would love to do more films set in Manchester, using Manchester talent.”

Watch Glass Houses on Vimeo here.

See more of Lewis’s work here and follow him on Twitter here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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