LANDLORD Vinnie Caira is optimistic Royton’s Halfway House is going to enjoy more than just 15 minutes of fame.
It was lights, camera, and action recently when the imposing Rochdale Road hostelry hosted a couple of Britain’s best-known acting talents and supporting film production crew.
Maxine Peake and Oldhamer William Ash (Waterloo Road, Clocking Off, Soldier Soldier) were in town to make a pilot film, given a working title of Judy, which it is hoped will become a fully-fledged drama later in the year.
If and when the team returns for more filming later in the year, they will do so to a new-look pub.
In six months, Vinnie has transformed the Halfway House’s fortunes to such an extent that brewer JW Lees has agreed a major summer refurbishment.
And it was certainly home from home for two days for Vinnie’s new and appreciative ‘customers’.
“It was all good fun,” said Vinnie, who is no stranger to helping feed and water film crews.
“When I was at Tara Leisure in Shaw I did some work with a film production company making Scott and Bailey.
“So when I got a call from a location manager asking if they could come down, I knew it wasn’t a wind-up.
“Because of the size of the place I was able to give them 30 car parking spaces, they use the back area for their production room and upstairs, which is vast, they gave over to make-up wardrobe and the green room.”
With nearly 40 mouths to feed, Vinnie and his chefs were certainly kept busy.
“There was a wide variety of dietary meal requests from vegans, vegetarians, non-dairy, gluten free.
“We received a list for each individual person, right down to chicken nuggets and chips which for William Ash’s son.”
Judy tells the story of a lady who is diagnosed with cancer but who does not want to tell anyone because her husband is going through a mid-life crisis.
A house close to the Halfway House, the Greyhound Inn on Holden Fold Lane and Royal Oldham Hospital were also used for other location shoots.
“The pilot was apparently reasonably low budget,” added Vinnie. “It’s going to be edited and then sent off to the British Film Industry,
“They are all quite confident it is going to be made and then hopefully they will be back with me for five and a half weeks later in the year.
“Maxine (star of everything from Dinnerladies and Shameless to Silk) was very nice and down to earth,” revealed Vinnie.
“I walked round and watched a couple of scenes and the second night they were here they didn’t finish filming until midnight.”
Vinnie, who has occasionally been likened to Robert de Niro, was not offered a walk on role. But he hopes his pub will not end up on the cutting room floor.
“They did say we would get in the credits. There was one scene where a car is driven past the pub but whether it gets included I don’t know.
“When they were doing Scott and Bailey, they picked a friend’s newsagents and filmed there for two days and used about 10 seconds when it gets edited!
“But they were chuffed to bits by what we could offer them and recommended we put yourself on the list of locations since when other location managers have already contacted me.”
Vinnie took over the Halfway House last August and has been rewarded for his transformation efforts by receiving a thumbs up from JW Lees for a major refurb which is expected to last around three weeks.
“If it had been a simple cosmetic job we could probably have stayed open. But we are having toilets ripped out, a new back bar, the main bar refurbished, new lighting, new carpets, new signage and painted on the inside and out.
“The brewery is pleased because the turnover is going up. This January we were 99 percent up on January 2018.
“The wet side has taken off quickly and the food is building up to. It is a local community pub and JW Lees is aware of that.”