SOMETHING that many locals may not be aware of is the thriving community of film makers in town.

One of the most successful and inspirational members of this talented gang is Black Dam dad-of-three Geoff Harmer, pictured, who has won countless awards and had his work shown all around the world. And it all began with some blue crepe paper and some Star Wars figures!

Geoff recalls: “When I was about six or seven, my dad showed me a silent 8mm film he and his friends made when they were younger called Fairies. It had lots of camera tricks, but it seemed like magic to me. He bought a 50mm reel of 8mm film and we made a set out of a toy set and some blue crepe paper.

“We then proceeded to make a short 20-second animation called Monsters on Earth, which had my Star Wars figures run about and shoot each other. All basic stuff really, but it got me hooked. I went on to shoot around 15 animations and short films on Cine Super 8 with my friends, moved on to video in 1986, and have carried on making films ever since.”

The range of the former John Hunt of Everest and Queen Mary’s College student’s work is hugely impressive, tackling a myriad of genres, including horror, sci-fi and humour. His 1992 film Hellbent, a Hellraiser fan film – which can be viewed on YouTube – has achieved cult status, and website informed Geoff that they believe it is the very first Hellraiser fan film.

Geoff revealed: “Off the back of this, we had the film shown at a horror film festival in New York, which was great. I also directed the film 8 Ball for local film-making group Pork Chop Pictures. This film is still on the festival circuit too and is getting lots of good feedback.

"I’ve won lots of awards over the years, which is great, but I’m more proud of having my films shown in festivals around the globe. Overtime, Room 4 and 8 Ball have all been well received in festivals around the globe, with showings in America, Argentina, South Korea, Poland, Holland, Portugal, and around the UK.”

His Star Wars parody Overtime, made to help the charity the Nystagmus Network – which supports people who suffer from an involuntary movement of the eyes which often seriously reduces vision – has raised just over £1,600.

As a working parent of just one child, I don’t know how he does it! The 40-year-old’s ambition is to become a fully paid-up film director, and his first feature, Addict, is on the way, currently in post-production along with Karen’s Room. Even though things can get stressful at times, he says he “wouldn’t have it any other way”.

Geoff says: “Film making and normal life do just about fit together, but it’s very hard. My family sometimes suffer from me not being around occasionally when making a film. I find editing is the most stressful thing as I can be working on it for months on end in the evening.

“I try not to let it get in the way, but it does. Even when I edit late in the evening, I inevitably become tired the next day so it affects me indirectly. Throw in a demanding day job as well and it’s quite difficult to fit everything in – but I do, somehow!”

Geoff can be contacted via Twitter on @fraughtuk.