A chance encounter in a miners’ welfare club resulted in DAMHA resident Steve Fergus being given a role in the latest film from Director Ken Loach.
Steve is one of the Trustees of the Easington Social Welfare Centre and in 2022 he received a call asking if the centre could be used for auditions of a new Ken Loach film entitled The Old Oak.
Having already been a location for films such as Billy Elliott, Steve had no hesitation in saying yes but he had no inkling that this would end up with him appearing in the film and walking the red carpet at one of the premieres.
He explains: “When the auditions were taking place, I was in the centre overseeing the deliveries of parcels which go out to local food banks.
“Someone from the production team was watching me and said he was impressed with how I was juggling plates, but I said it came naturally to me because I worked in transport for Asda for 18 years, latterly as a Transport Manager.
“The next thing I know I was introduced to Ken Loach, and he told me he wanted me in his film, and I subsequently discovered that the person watching me was the writer of the movie Paul Laverty, who wrote a part for me based on what he had seen me doing.”
Steve, who lives in one of our homes Easington and used to be a DAMHA board member, was given the part of Finn, a Transport Manager, who has one line in the film, but who appears in background scenes throughout.
He adds: “I had to say a line about food parcels having been received from Durham Cathedral and it only took me two takes and that was because there was light shining in my eyes on the first take, so they wanted to do another.
“I even got a round of applause which was amazing given I had never acted before in my life.
“It was an incredible experience seeing what goes into making a film like this and then being invited to walk the red carpet at the premiere in Durham, seeing myself on screen and my name in the credits was something else!”
The Old Oak centres around the story of pub landlord TJ Ballantyne, who is struggling to hold onto his pub in a previously thriving mining community. Tensions rise when Syrian refugees are placed in the community, but Ballantyne strikes up a friendship with one of the refugees.
Filming began in May 2022 and took place over six weeks. Locations used in County Durham included Murton, Horden, Easington and Durham Cathedral. The pub in Murton that became The Old Oak during filming was a disused pub previously known as The Victoria