Isle of Man News - POSTED Fri 27-03-2015

Manx-made film up for prestigious award & 2 US screenings

by MT

Manx-made film up for prestigious award & 2 US screenings A film made on the Isle of Man about world famous watchmakers George Daniels and Roger W Smith has received an important global accolade and is looking at two major US screenings next month.

‘The Watchmaker’s Apprentice’, made by independent film company DAM Productions, has been selected to screen as part of WorldFest in Houston Texas. Now in it’s 48th year, the film festival has a mission statement to “honor outstanding creative excellence in film & video”. Previous Worldfest discoveries include The Coen Brothers, Ang Lee, David Lynch and Steven Spielberg.

Director and cinematographer Dave Armstrong has been invited to host an exclusive Q&A screening of the film, which will also receive a much coveted Remi award at the prestigious Gala Awards event.

The feature length film, made over the course of three years and containing the last ever interview with legendary Master Watchmaker Daniels before his death in October 2011, has been a labour of love for Dave, Editor Christy DeHaven and Producer Zoe Guilford. It is described as ‘A compelling film about two of the world’s greatest watchmakers – their extraordinary craft, their touching relationship and their unique personalities.' Christy explains that, in the edit process, it also became about about much more than this.

“We recognised something really special about these men in that their skills and their craft - which is unparalleled in the world today anyway - requires them to manipulate time itself. That begs vast questions that we really wanted to somehow include in telling their story. So with the help of scriptwriter Roy McMillan (formerly of Manx Radio) it also became about ‘the passage of time, making every moment count and the opportunities we have to leave a lasting imprint on the world’ as the synopsis suggests. Fairly big topics!”

Dave continued “The relationship between George and Roger was extremely touching and we’ve tried very hard to do that justice. Hopefully, all of this means we have a film that is about much more than just watchmaking, which is fascinating in itself of course, and this approach should help make it appeal to a broader audience.”


Film critic Mark Kermode took time out earlier this year to attend a press screening. Producer Zoe recognised the value of this: “We were so pleased that he was able to watch our film, but were even more thrilled with his reaction!” she said. “Within days, he had come back to us with an excellent review.”

Kermode, who is notoriously difficult to please when it comes to film and who is famous for his no holds barred approach to reviewing, described it as “A lovely, charming, insightful look at a unique relationship, told with passion and style.”

Narrated by the Island’s resident Hollywood actor John Rhys Davies (‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Indiana Jones’), the film partnered up with distributor Bulldog Films just last month. “We’ve been trying to nail distribution for nearly two years, with the help of Executive Producer Alistair Audsley.” said Dave. “We finally settled with Bulldog who will be handling our UK sales, and Amadeus who will look after international. We are now looking at a release date of June 8th. It’s been a long time coming, but we hope everyone will enjoy the film enough to forgive us the delays!”


On the back of the Houston screening, Dave will head to New York where he and Roger Smith, the 'Watchmaker's Apprentice' himself, will host another exclusive screening at Tribeca Cinemas in conjunction with the New York Horological Society. Roger is of course now very much recognised as one of the world’s greatest watchmakers himself, and has just returned from Shanghai where he represented the best of British creativity, technology and innovation at the GREAT Festival of Creativity. The delegation, which was led by HRH Prince William, also represented the first official Royal visit to China since 1986.

Tickets for the New York screening are already selling fast and are extremely limited, as this will be the first major public premiere of the film, and with Roger in attendance, it is set to be a very special event.

Zoe, who also produced short film 'Him Upstairs', which recently won an award at the Liverpool LiftOff Film Festival, added: “We’re just as excited that these screenings will provide an opportunity for us to represent independent filmmaking on the Isle of Man - which is very much alive and kicking.”

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