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Comic publisher launches film production company

British publisher Rough Cut Comics launched their operation 17 years ago with a mini-series title based on a horror film project backed by Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi. Now, its former editor-in-chief gets his film career back on track with a new short film called Doorways, which was shot earlier this year in Manchester’s Northern Quarter district.

Writer/Publisher Ed Murphy, who created the Rose Black series of graphic novels and scripted the comic-book sequel to Brian Yuzna’s Society, had originally worked alongside producers Vic Bateman and Alan Latham to develop a series of feature film productions – most notably the “time travelling serial killer opus” called The Surgeon – Rough Cut’s debut title.

Murphy is now firmly concentrating on film again – most recently as associate producer on the animated horror feature Malevolent which features the voices of William Shatner, Morena Baccarin and Ray Wise; and as co-writer and co-producer on a new short which is set in the UK’s homeless community.

The story follows a newly homeless young girl experiencing the disturbed paranoia of a veteran down-and-out who believes his street-colleagues are being snatched from the city’s doorways.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of the social horror genre,” admits Ed. “Movies like The People Under the Stairs, Candyman and Videodrome are great examples of how the sub-genre can be effective horror stories and at the same time illustrate something important about the social structure of the times.

“I had originally been pitched Doorways by a friend who had developed it as a feature film project. I felt there was a section within the bigger story which was truly nightmarish, and for weeks after reading it, I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head.

“I believe the growing homeless problem in this country – and in every part of the world for that matter – is becoming truly horrific. I didn’t want to exploit that with this story. I wanted to try and illustrate that community and underline the horrors they can face on a day-to-day level.”

Ed wanted to film in Manchester – as opposed to London or Glasgow – because he’d always loved the city’s modern industrial façade and was keen to homage the opening of Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue.

I just love the opening of that classic Jorge Grau film,” he explains. “It’s only a short note at the beginning of Grau’s film, but the visuals and the soundtrack funk is absolutely fantastic. I really wanted to emulate that and make the city the third character in the story. I felt its warehouses, railway viaducts and canals were a key backdrop for this kind of drama.

Producer Ed Murphy with lead actress Katie Nicholls

Ed co-wrote the short film script and contacted Manchester-based director Trey Williams, who had previously worked with the acclaimed Ken Loach on the 2010 drama Rogue Irish. His Optimum Film and TV Productions are co-producing the film with Ed’s company, Rough Cut Entertainment. “I really wanted a style which was direct, straight-forward, honest and wasn’t too contrived as a drama, and I believed Trey could definitely provide that. He worked tremendously with the two main actors in the film. He really pushed them as far as he could and I feel that really shows in their performances. I’m looking forward to seeing it with an audience.

“I also wanted them to see this story from the perspective of being homeless themselves. Where we were filming in Manchester, that community were all around us. It was hard for the myself and the whole crew to become complacent in any way while depicting their hardships. And I hope we can reflect that in the final film.”

Doorways is currently in post-production with Optimum and Murphy hopes to see a finished cut in the next few weeks – whereby it’ll be released for consideration in the festival circuit.

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