Richard Swart, Chair of the Open North Foundation, and Jonny Tull, founder of Tull Stories.
(L - R): Richard Swart, Chair of the Open North Foundation, and Jonny Tull, founder of Tull Stories.

Newcastle based film agency to launch new film thanks to ‘game changing’ grant

A £2,000 business recovery grant from Open North Foundation (ONF), will be a ‘gamechanger’ for an ‘ambitious’ film exhibition and distribution agency based in Newcastle.

The funds will help Tull Stories to launch its recently acquired Icelandic, award-winning, black comedy, Driving Mum, into cinemas and online in March 2024.

ONF was established in 2020 to assist businesses in the North East to recover from the ravages of the pandemic. Since then, it has widened its remit to assist small and early-stage businesses that have a compelling case for support to enable them to grow at pace.

Jonny Tull is founder of Tull Stories, which releases films in the UK and provides support for independent cinemas, cultural organisations and filmmakers, festivals and other film distributors. Jonny has 25 years of frontline experience in film distribution, film programming and marketing for the cinema, heritage and arts and culture sectors.

Recent Tull Stories film releases include Mikey Corker’s documentary Savage Waters, Jens Meurer’s documentary Seaside Special, Maysoon Pachachi’s drama Our River…Our Sky and Jon Sanders’ UK drama A Clever Woman.

Jonny, commented: “The film that this grant award will be applied to represents a major gear change for Tull Stories. After years of bootstrapping its releases and with limited resources, this award will allow us to bring in an external PR specialist to work on Driving Mum’s release.

“They will have a remit to promote the film not just to the film press, but to act on the added opportunity around the film, acting as a gateway to Icelandic culture. We want this film to be in more than just the film pages of our newspapers. Without this award, we would have been limited to releasing without PR support. It will be transformative.

“Cinema and cinema going has been incredibly affected by the pandemic. Already an evolving pastime and one which requires care and attention and finger-on-the-pulse thinking, when COVID 19 closed cinemas and changed our habits, it moved how films were released, how they were consumed and how they were talked about ahead by about five years.

“Our own work has been impacted by several elements. We set up our company just prior to the global pandemic, meaning our startup was stalled for two years. In addition, our core aim, that of taking independent films to cinemas, has been rocked by the slower-than-anticipated return to cinemas by audiences.

“Finally, with the rapid growth in online viewership, we have had to factor in a heightened online element of our business, resulting in increased costs.”

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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