It’s Rough Being A Guerrilla

His shoe-string budget zombie movie Colin proved the hit of the international festival circuit in 2008 and won him such high-profile fans as Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese.

But it was while shooting a robbery scene for his new film Magpie that director Marc Price discovered that he’d also attracted attention from very different quarters – South Wales Police’s armed response unit.

“We were doing a late night shoot at the corner shop at the end of the street I live on in Swansea,” says the 33-year-old who’s no stranger to filmmaking on the hoof, guerrilla style.

“We’d phoned ahead to arrange it and some of the staff had even stayed on after closing to be extras in the scene, but it looks like the news that we’d be in there filming hadn’t quite reached everyone because a neighbour must have spotted the guns and the hoodies the actors were wearing and called 999,” he laughs.

As a result Price and his crew – not to mention the rest of the movie’s cast who happened to be taking a break in a parked car outside –suddenly found themselves staring down the barrels of some very imposing semi-automatic rifles.

“I just remember my camera man, who’s normally a very calm bloke, having this panicked look on his face and nodding to me, ‘Er Marc, I think there’s someone here to see you’,” adds Price.

“At which point I turned around and there were about seven of them, big guys with big guns whose job it was to shoot other guys carrying guns – so we just dropped the cameras immediately.”

Luckily though, Price says, it didn’t take the officers too long to realise the whole thing had been a false alarm.

“We obviously couldn’t have been perceived as a serious threat because, despite the fact they had their weapons pointed at us, at no point were their fingers poised on the triggers – believe me, that was the first thing I made a point of noticing.

“In fact the only crime that had been committed was that Alastair Kirton, who played the undead lead in Colin, had been sitting behind the wheel of the getaway car but wasn’t insured to drive it away,” he laughs.

And it’s not the first time Price has fallen foul of the long arm of the law either.

“No, a similar thing happened when I was still studying film at university, only this time we’d hadn’t called ahead to tell anyone what we’d be doing.

“Again, it was a scene where someone was waving a gun around in public and, again, a car full of armed cops turned up.

“Actually, it might have even been the same officers who recently dropped in on us on the set of Magpie,” Price smiles.

“I’m surprised they didn’t take one look at me and go, ‘Oh, it’s you’.”

The story of an estranged father who returns home to attend his young son’s funeral, only to end up hijacking the coffin and taking it on a road trip, Magpie marks Price’s first return to directing since his much-publicised, micro-budgeted horror caused a stir at prestigious showbiz bashes like Cannes.

Rumoured to have cost only £45 to make, thanks to the director borrowing all the equipment and shanghaiing his mates to star, Colin was a perfect example at how budding amateur film-making needn’t have to break the band to break it big.

But Price is quick to cite the real highlight of his career so far.

“Yeah, being bigged up by Martin Scorsese was incredible,” he says, recalling the tweet from a friend informing him that the Goodfellas director had singled Colin out for praise.

“It was in an interview Scorsese had done with GQ in which he’d said that he thought zombie films were dull to watch, except this little movie Colin he’d just seen.

“I could have died a happy man right then and there,” says Price.

* Magpie will get a private screening at the British Film Institute in London on November 30 before hitting cinemas in 2013.

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