Striking Cambridge building hosts film crew
A site to the south of the city is to feature in a new horror film from a director with Cantabrigian ties.
George Henry Horton, a Los Angeles-based producer and director originally from Kent, is currently shooting Ground Floor at the Old Mill House off Trumpington Road. Its star is New York-based actress Stacy Chu who takes on the role of ‘Sophia’.
The film chronicles Sophia’s ordeal as she becomes trapped in a house when the ground floor seemingly disappears. Filming in Cambridge began last week and production is set to wrap later this month. Liberty Atlantic Studios, the production company heading the film, hopes to release it later this year.
George, whose parents met while studying at the University of Cambridge, told the Cambridge Independent: “It’s a low-budget, independent horror film – we’re shooting some of it in Cambridge and then some back in Los Angeles.”
He continued: “Essentially, the hook is a girl is housesitting. She turns up in this beautiful house which she thinks is perfect in every way. She’s always aspired to this materialistic lifestyle and starts taking things and trying things on – and she realises she has become trapped in the house.
“She goes up to the top floor and finds all this stuff, and then when she goes back downstairs she finds herself in the basement – she can’t get back to the ground floor. Then rooms start disappearing around her and she has to figure out how she’s going to escape.
“There are pyschological and supernatural elements going on – the house is the protagonist, in a way.”
As well as occupying the director’s chair, George – a recent graduate from the prestigious American Film Institute who has been living in the City of Angels for two and a half years – also wrote the piece. “I’ve been preparing it since October and I’ve been out here [in the UK] for three weeks so far,” he explained.
“We’ll be going back to LA in a couple of weeks.”
On how he and his team ended up at this particular house in Cambridge, George noted: “As many independent producers will tell you, you have to use resources available to you, and it just so happened that I knew somebody who had this property who had yet to move in.
“For a nominal sum they let us use it, and it’s a minimal set-up – we don’t have a giant truck out the back like I would normally in LA. This is the smallest film I’ve ever done; basically we’re bringing cars packed full of gear.
“I like it, I think you are actually afforded a lot more creative freedom when you have a smaller crew because you have fewer logistics to worry about.”
George is loving life in the US and the fact he gets to follow his passion, saying: “It’s a dream, I’m very glad I’m doing it. The best part is you do one project and then it’s almost like you have a whole new job when you do the next one, so it’s not the same thing day in, day out.”
For budding filmmakers, it seems horror is the ideal genre in which to start out. “The cynical part of me would tell you that horror is the best gateway genre,” observed George, “because it can be cheap to produce and, most importantly, you don’t need a name cast.
“If you talk about any other genre, the first question is ‘Who’s in it?’ With horror, people tend to ask ‘What’s it about?’ And since it’s hard to win awards with horror, name actors aren’t drawn to it anyway.”
Aside from his parents being students at Cambridge, George has further connections to the city. “My mum’s from Cambridge, both my grandparents live here... uncles and aunts, they all live down the road. I come here every summer. My dad’s originally from Manchester but he came here.
“Cambridge is very familiar to me, which is why I’m happy to be here because I really think it’s beautiful.”