Cannock's Chris jets off to US in hunt for Oscar glory
He will soon be rubbing shoulders with Hollywood heavyweights Christopher Nolan, Gary Oldman and Meryl Streep, but Oscar-nominated director Chris Overton found time to return to his home town before jetting off to the States.
It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Chris, aged 28, from Heath Hayes, whose short film The Silent Child has been nominated for the biggest prize in film.
The 20-minute film about a deaf girl’s struggles with communication has warmed the hearts of the Academy Awards judges – meaning it will be from Heath Hayes to Tinseltown for the former Kingsmead School student.
Watch the trailer for The Silent Child
But before he headed off the director attended a special sold-out showing of his film at the Electric Palace Picture House in Cannock, hosted by his former school teacher.
Chris then hosted a special question and answer session about his film and his upcoming trip to the Oscars.
He said: “The support was amazing, I got a standing ovation. It was fantastic, it’s where my film-making all started and it was lovely to see some familiar faces.
“It was very special. I used to go to that cinema as a kid and I never expected to go back for a showing of my own film, especially an Oscar-nominated one.
“It was really nice to have so much support. It was a like a send-off before the Oscars."
The story of The Silent Child is particularly poignant for Chris and his fiancée, the former Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton, whose father went deaf overnight.
The couple want support for deaf children to be available in all schools in the UK.
The film focuses on a young deaf girl who is born into a middle-class family and struggles with communication until she meets a caring social worker. Chris believes the subject matter is what has caught the attention of the Oscar judges.
He said: “The film-making, cinematography, music and everything has to be 10 out of 10 but you have to have a special ingredient to be Oscar-nominated, a real sense of authenticity. The story is very close to Rachel’s heart.”
The Silent Child is up against four other films in the live action short category and Chris was flying out to the US today ahead of the ceremony on March 4.
He said: “I’m still having to pinch myself. I went out to the Oscars lunch and met Steven Spielberg and saw Meryl Streep.” It is all a long way from the streets of Cannock, where Chris first picked up a video camera.
He said: “When I was 13 I told a fib to my mum about needing a video camera for a media project. I was fascinated by editing and filming.
“There wasn’t much to do in Cannock apart from cause trouble and play football and I wanted to make films.”