In Fading Light DVD
A feature drama set in the declining fishing industry in North Shields, the actors auditioned and trained by local fishermen and filmed on the 63 foot seine netter bought by Amber.
103 mins, 16mm Colour/optical Feature film Available to purchase as: DVD (all regions, PAL), VHS
Silver Medal, New York, 1990 Silver Anchor, Toulon, 1991 DVD of the Year, DVD Times 2005
When Amber film and photography collective decided to work in North Shields, the group bought a pub. When it wanted to make a film about the town’s fishing industry, it bought the Sally, a 63 foot anchor seine netter. Actors coming for auditions found themselves at sea for days, gutting fish. When the story required a storm sequence, cast, crew and fishermen set sail, into the teeth of a force 9 gale, tripods anchored to the deck. Writer Tom Hadaway had a lifetime’s experience on the fish quay. Filmmakers and actors brought a commitment to authenticity that was almost heroic. In Fading Light captures the Shields fishing industry on the edge of its decline, a beautifully shot film about work and community.
The film centres on the upheaval caused in a traditional fishing community by the unexpected arrival of a young woman. A tale of epic proportions, life and death, emotional conflict, told with a documentary realism that denies melodrama. Tom Hadaway’s tragic/comic dialogue, the stunning visual quality (it took months to overcome the problems of filming at sea, something that has very rarely if ever been attempted in a drama of this scale), and the veracity of the performances combine, not just to tell a moving story, but to give the audience experience of a way of life.
Made under the auspices of the ACTT Workshop Declaration with financial assistance from Northern Arts and Channel Four Television.
Cast includes: Joanna Ripley, Dave Hill, Sammy Johnson, Brian Hogg, Amber Styles, Mo Harold, Jo Caffrey
Screenplay by Tom Hadaway
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES Amber & North Shields (9 mins), a documentary telling the story of the group’s five year engagement with this Tyneside fishing and shipbuilding community. Making ‘In Fading Light’ (64 mins), a documentary exploring the story and the relevance of the film from the different perspectives of the Amber production team, writer Tom Hadaway, who died in 2005, the actors and the fishermen involved. Let Go by Peter Fryer (1989), a photographic documentation of the North Shields fishing industry, commissioned in parallel to the filmmaking. Amber: A Short History, an illustrated 32 page booklet outlining the story of the Newcastle-based film and photography collective from its origins in a meeting of film students at Regents Street Polytechnic in London in 1968.
REVIEWS British cinema has made notable past efforts to document the fisherman’s hardy life, yet compared to the Amber Film’s briny air, Man of Aran and the like might almost be drawing room comedies. ... This is a forceful portrait of an imperilled way of life and a British film to be reckoned with. Geoff Brown, The Times
Triumphant tale … without being either patronising or sentimental….it’s a pleasure to see. Derek Malcolm, The Guardian
An astonishingly assured work which lends new edge to the cliche about gritty realism. The smell of the icy salt spray bursting over the rails of its fishing boat practically explodes off the screen…leads us gently into the most intimate corners of its characters’ lives. Peter Calder, New Zealand Herald
Not since Mick Grigsby’s, A Life Apart and Deckie Learner, have the rigours of life on a trawler been so vividly captured… Julian Petley, Sight and Sound