Port Vale striker Tom Pope will feature in a feature-length documentary about Potteries life. Rob Fielding spoke to the film’s producers to find out more.
The film, called “Oatcakes” is a feature length, 90-minute documentary filmed in and around North Staffordshire. Rob Fielding asked the film’s producers The 7th Town (Toby DeCann and Robert Burns) about the film and Pope’s role in it.
RF: Tom Pope, in a film, how did that come about?
TD: When our project evolved from being a short film about oatcakes into a feature length documentary about local pride we knew that football and Port Vale were going to feature heavily. After Tom’s achievements last season and his status as a homegrown hero, he was the main target man we wanted to interview.
It didn’t happen overnight. We had to submit proposals to the football club and have meetings with their press officers but after a few months of back and forth talks we were able to get Tom to ourselves for about half-an-hour.
First Vale film? Not quite…
Ronald Neame’s 1952 adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s “The Card” was arguably the first film to feature Port Vale. However, Bennett, as he often did, changed the name slightly to “Bursley.” In a move not unfamiliar to fans, the novel “The Card” portrays the club in the middle of a cash crisis…
It was when he talked about the area that he really opened up to us. He’s really proud of his roots, speaks fondly of upbringing and is a Vale fan through and through…
RB: Being a ‘Boslem’ lad and growing up in Middleport I really understand the importance Port Vale and in particular Tom Pope have to the North Stoke community. Football is a big part of the Potteries and its great to see a local lad scoring goals in League One. I haven’t met many Stoke fans who wouldn’t want him in the team at the Brit. Meeting Tom Pope I found him very humble, down to earth and a great sense of humour. For me, he is a good representation of everything great about the people of this area.
RF: Can you tell us a bit more about the film?
TD: ‘Oatcakes!’ is a zero budget, feature length, 90-minute documentary filmed in and around North Staffordshire. The film is about local pride and centres on the oatcake makers of the area and the proud traditions that they keep. It is also an entertaining, character piece that presents the Potteries in a positive light.
Both Robert and myself got sick and tired of all of the negative press that the area gets from the national media and decided that we wanted to do something about it…
RB: Toby and me both attended Burslem College about ten years ago, although on the same course but in different years we never actually spoke. While studying Film Production at Staffs Uni, I invited Toby to an audition for a short film called ‘Wasted land’ and I gave him the part. We worked on two of my University films together, and for me it was really great having another Stokie on set to exchange niceties about the area.
Toby is from a completely different background to myself and was raised on the opposite side of the Potteries, but we share the same proud fondness of the area. So when we discussed ideas for a documentary, the answer was a really obvious choice and was starring us right in the face.
RF: When and how can the Potteries public get to see the Pope on the big screen?
TD: The film is released on August 8th of this year (which is Oatcake Day) and we’re currently in negotiations with potential venues to try and have a big premiere in the city.
If people are unable to make the premiere we will be making the film available to watch on our YouTube channel, on the same day and for one week only. We want to give everyone the chance to see this film and to celebrate this fantastic, quirky and creative place we live in as well as praise local sporting heroes like Tom Pope.
RB: We were filmed by Port Vale talking to Tom, so we we’re told there might also be a sneak preview of his interview on the Valiant Player soon.
Get Oatcake updates…
For the latest updates on the film you can follow the 7th Town on both Facebook and Twitter:
You can watch some outtakes from the film below.