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Encounter Out Of Time - FAQs about the short story and short film

An expat returns by train on a nostalgic visit to Manchester. After seeing an apparition in the viewing window at Stockport Station, he is led into a series of events and find himself transported back to the year 1965. He sees himself as a child with his mother and uncle playing in the park. But the idyll fades. Feeling a sense of danger he walks through a 1950s pea soup fog to Cheadle Heath station to make contact his father, who is arriving from Liverpool on a steam train. In a frightening dénouement he discovers the reason for his visit.

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Are the events autobiographical?

They are semi-autobiographical. I have created a mini-story which uses elements of my childhood, but the main action is not based on anything that happened. I was never filmed on super 8 film, the characters are not meant to represent my real family, though my father did have a job at Cheadle Heath Station for a while. We never went to Stockport County football ground.

Where did the idea of cheering crowds in an empty stadium come from?

Maybe from those films from the 1950s with scratchy sound. I'm sure there is the sound of cheering in 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner'. In any case, I was recently on a walk near Edgeley Park football ground, and there was the sound of crowds cheering, very loud, you could hear it from as far away as the A6. It was eerie as the streets were empty of fans, and you couldn't see the crowds inside the stadium. The sound of fans cheering at a football match is incredibly evocative and has a complex texture that's constantly changing. The idea of hearing all this cheering, then going into an empty stadium appeals to me.

Are the locations real?

All the locations are real. I have used the urban landscape of the district where I grew up as the setting for the action. I really did look through the viewing window next to Edgeley Station with my father. The park, the reservoirs, the rose garden for the blind, the idyllic view over Cheshire, the pea soup fog and the views of Cheadle Heath Station - which closed in 1969 - all are real places that are still a part of my 'personal psychic landscape'. I have adapted and enhanced some of them to intensify the effect.

Why does the child in the super 8 film sequence keep running up to the camera and away again?

I'm trying to explore the nature of memory. When we have a recollection of an event, we often 'play' it in our mind's eye, over and over again, like a sequence from a video or a DVD. The visuals and colour scheme all play on the interaction between recording media and the the ability of the mind to visualise memories.

You're a photographer, why are you writing stories and planning to make films?

I am a photographer and writer. I have written a fictional narrative that has photographic qualities.There is a lot of crossover between stills photography and cinematography. Many stills photographers branch out into film, for example Anton Corbijn, director of 'Control'. I have written up the story as a short story so that I can fully develop it in my own mind. This will make things easier when I come to make the film.

When will people be able to watch the film?

It's a longer term project so not for some time yet.

In the meantime I am working on a less ambitious short film, also set in Edgeley, to be made in collaboration with production company Impossible ideas Ltd. More details to be posted soon.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2007-11-20

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